Have the punk rockers who took acid been listening to 1970's MOR singer/songwriters? Possibly, possibly not. They may have been listening to REM.
It seems The Flaming Lips have forgotten how to bang gongs, have fun, and not take themselves too seriously, for there's a third of a potentially great cohesive album here, plus a third of a pop album where the band try and fail to sell records to Madonna fans, and a third where the material is markedly weaker than Flaming Lips material of the recent past.
is a strange album and no mistake. It's interesting, it's very human, and weary sounding. The first two songs scream out at me - they taunt and mock me - "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" is deliberately dumb and irritating, to the point of annoyance. Yet, it has an irresistible melody. And "Free Radicals" is another irritant, a song that sounds all the world like it was orginally recorded by Scissor Sisters, where the band have scrawled with colourful crayons all over the top of a pop song.
The album is a little front-loaded, although discerning fans will look a little deeper, beyond the playful mocking versions of pop music that it offers. What follows those two openers reinforces that. "The Sound of Failure" sounds like the product of different sessions, a different decade even - there's a whiff of 70's MOR, yet it's topped with squelchy and futuristic noises. "My Cosmic Autumn Relation" includes bird sounds, with lyrics to match. They're both crucial cuts, wholly different animals to the two devious and playful openers.
One under-cooked acoustic/psych number followed by a rather dull instrumental with strange squeaky noises forms the midsection of the album. That's where I lose interest, although the ambitious three part "It Overtakes Me" wakes me up again, before letting me down gently into quiet solitude.Rated:
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
Posted: Monday 11th Dec 2017 10:48 AM
is an insipid piece of garbage that takes all the good vibes established by the surprisingly energetic and tasteful half of Let’s Dance
and flushes them down the toilet. But the funny thing about the album is that it doesn’t even work as a pop sell-out.
The hit “Blue Jean” is a half-decent pop song with a marginally catchy melody and horn lines a-plenty (like “Modern Love” but 'passably decent' rather than 'a fantastic pop song'), but I’m just not sure how the rest of this album is supposed to appeal to the general public ... do they enjoy meandering 7-minute New Agey ballads that do nothing, and sound like dentist office muzak?
If not, then what the hell is “Loving the Alien” doing as the opening track? Who’s the demographic there? I mean, there are other late Bowie albums I dislike as much or nearly as much as this one, but with most of them I can at least understand why people with certain musical tastes might enjoy them. But with this album, I’m at a loss. Am I missing something? How could people actually listen to this bullshit?
Two of these tracks sound like an unholy alliance between truckloads of valium, instantly dateable 80's production, and reggae. Reggae! “Don’t Look Down” may be the most insipidly boring and ridiculous song Bowie’s ever recorded, and the title track isn’t much better. I don’t know, maybe it's supposed to be jazz or something - I can’t tell - it’s slow, sluggish, useless, and horrible in any case. If you’re gonna make a fake plastic 80's album, at least make it fast and stupid, you know?
Christ, there’s a cover of “God Only Knows” here as well. Seriously! And Bowie gives it the same energy-sapping production as everything else, only he also decides to croon as loud and off-key as possible and toss on layers of massive string overdubs in an attempt to make one of the best and most affecting pop songs of all time sound like an unholy mound of shit. So congratulations Bowie, you did it - you succeeded at turning “God Only Knows” into a terrible song that sounds like it's by a bad airport lounge band.
Despite what I've said, somehow this godforsaken album gets no less insipid when it finally acquires a pulse, with the ridiculous social conscience rocker “Neighborhood Threat” (just two tracks after Bowie murdered “God Only Knows” and left its rotting carcass in a back alley!), a track that contains the line everybody always wants to kiss your trash
because it seems an 8-minute song about anal sex in circa 1984 is too risque for Bowie.
God, this thing is a joke. There’s another cover here (“I Keep Forgetting”) which is mindless and gawd-awful, but still, at least it doesn’t make me break out in hives. “Tumble and Twirl” has cheerful horns and talks about meeting in Borneo but (alas) may be the stupidest song on the entire album, while “Dancing with the Big Boys” sounds exactly like “Neighborhood Threat”, yet somehow even worse if that's possible.
The album is all of 35 minutes long, and Iggy Pop is listed as a co-writer on pretty much everything that’s not a cover, definitive proof that Bowie phoned this one in. It's an atrocious load of bullshit that you should avoid at all costs, with one OK pop song and absolutely nothing else. The muzak-like first half may be the most maddeningly insipid stretch of music I’ve ever heard, while the more 'rocking' second half isn't any better.Rated:
by Reviewer: BRAD
Posted: Wednesday 13th Dec 2017 8:03 PM