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The Flaming Lips – “American Head” Album Review | Gavin Brown

September 28, 2020

Flaming Lips

American Head  

American Head, the latest album from Flaming Lips is the latest in a long line of defining albums from a band who have been releasing albums for almost thirty five years and on this latest album, the sound of Flaming Lips sound even more dreamlike and vital than usual.

This is the sound of the Flaming Lips at the peak of their musical powers, a place they have been to before on previous albums like Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and Soft Bulletin and it seems that the band can harness this as they please, it’s that effortless for them.  The band knows exactly where they stand when it comes to their music and it sounds like they are having the time of their lives as they power their way through American Head, an album that tells a deeply personal story but is done in the most beautiful way.

The album starts with Will You Return/When You Come Down with a wave of sound that feels as if it is going to sound ominous and menacing but in a flash, morphs into that familiar Flaming Lips sound and it sounds just as familiar and comforting as you would expect. That sublime opening soon forms into the hazily beautiful and Neil Young-esque Watching The Lightbugs Glow before the psychedelic flourish of Flowers Of Neptune 6, a song complete with even more stunning than usual vocals from frontman Wayne Coyne and the quality keeps on coming forth.

This strong start doesn’t falter and the quirky Dinosaurs In The Mountain and the reflective melancholy of At The Movies On Quaaludes are worthy additions to this collection of songs. 

The wonderfully titled Mother I’ve Taken LSD, follows and is a huge sounding psychedelic opus, befitting its title and sounds delightful in an epic fashion, especially the songs ending which is a joy to listen to.
Brother Eye and You N Me Sellin Weed are more lo-fi sounding tracks but done in the Flaming Lips unique way and fit in with the rest of the albums’ sound perfectly, as both songs resonate with a wistful haziness. The beautiful, piano-led ballad Mother Please Don’t Be Sad is an emotional listen but one that transcends sadness and has to be one of the most life-affirming songs that the band have ever put on record, a definite highlight of American Made (although there are many).

The almost instrumental When We Die When We’re High acts as a psychedelic interlude and is the most out-there thing in the album but this just adds to the vivid nature of this album while Assassins Of Youth is a more electronic sounding Flaming Lips track that changes towards the end into more familiar territory.

The album concludes with Kacey Musgraves featuring in God And The Policeman, a stirring duet between Coyne and Musgraves that works brilliantly before the low key My Religion Is You ends things on a sheer high.

American Head is an ode to life and the experience that comes with it and the sounds on here adhere to things that have shaped Coyne and the Flaming Lips throughout their history and this results in a brilliant and triumphant celebration of life manifested in a collection of music that sounds like a dream and is an all-consuming and joyous listen that will rightly stand as up there with the best albums that Flaming Lips have ever made, if not the best, it’s that good.


Words: Gavin Brown

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