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CD review: The Flaming Lips 'The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends'

CD review: The Flaming Lips ‘The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends'
Published: April 20, 2012


The Flaming Lips ‘The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends' (Warner Bros.)

Better line up early at your favorite house of wax on Record Store Day (Saturday) if you're a Flaming Lips fanatic. Warner Bros. Records is only pressing a measly 10,000 copies of “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends,” the fearless freaks' much ballyhooed collection of quirky collaborations with a cross-section of dizzyingly disparate players.

Irreverent pop powder keg Ke$ha commands you to dance to the incessant pounding of a bass drum pedal and discordant chord-banging on “2012” as she declares “Well it's 2012 / People going to hell / Put me under / Your acid spell,” and a robotic little voice keeps insisting “You must be upgraded ... You must be upgraded.”

The irresistible handclapping noise-fest seems about to build to freak-out levels before suddenly gliding into a hauntingly beautiful synthesizer soundscape with Ke$ha assuming a more soothing vocal mode.

Then the rhythmic raging rises anew in the final 30 seconds of the piece.

East Coast rapper Biz Markie is also contributing to the din, but it's uncertain what that contribution is.

Autumnal, indie-rocking Bon Iver joins forces with Wayne Coyne and company for the eerily majestic aural edifice of distorted electronic keyboards and melancholy vocal harmonies that is “Ashes in the Air,” while Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros help fashion the shimmering acoustic guitar and synthesizer colors of the pastoral “Helping the Retarded to Know God.”

Aussie avant-rocker Nick Cave brings his menacing spoken-word imagery to the behemoth-size buzz-guitar, heavenly-harp-and-chimes space-jam “You, Man? Human?”

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