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Reliably odd but the deranged proggery grates: King's Mouth by The Flaming Lips reviewed

And I’d keep your kids away from the children’s book that accompanies the album

10 August 2019

9:00 AM

10 August 2019

9:00 AM

Grade: B-

So a queen dies as her giant baby is being born. The baby grows very big indeed and soon everything in the universe is inside his necessarily large head. One day he sacrifices himself to save his subjects from a deluge of snow. The townspeople cut off his head and preserve it in steel so that it will last for ever. Some of them climb inside his mouth to have a look around. They see thunderstorms and stars, apparently.


Exactly what you’d expect from another Flaming Lips concept album, I suppose, this time narrated by a bemused Mick Jones of the Clash. Everything else is in place, too — Wayne Coyne’s weedy and winsome falsetto, a gallimaufry of deranged Floydesque proggery, the occasional strummed acoustic guitar, lyrics pregnant with drug-induced meaninglessness, electronic beeps and farts and a portentous synthesised chorale backdrop which, in the end, really begins to grate.

But, this being the Flaming Lips, there are also fragments of very pretty tunes. This has always been the Oklahoma trio’s Achilles heel: the melodic ideas are often lovely, but rarely developed beyond one or two lines. Here, only on the charming closing number ‘How Can A Head’ do those fragments coalesce into something you might care to call a song. Elsewhere the first minute or so of every tune is endurable or even appealing, but they never go much further than that, maybe apart from on the kind of Dandy Warhol ur-funk of ‘Feedaloodum Beedle Dot’ (yes, yes, I know). There’s a book for children to accompany this reliably odd extravaganza. I’d keep your children away from it, if I were you.


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