Reinvention is a dangerous and hard thing to accomplish in the world of music, however if done correctly it can propel a band into a wide spectrum of new possibilities. The Flaming Lips are no strangers to this, they have done it twice before. With In a Priest Driven Ambulance, The Lips began to take their garage-punk and add bigger guitar riffs, and experimentation. With The Soft Bulliten, the group transformed into the confetti-drenched positive psych-rock group that made them a spectacle to behold at music festivals around the world. However, with their disappointment of an album At War With The Mystics, Wayne Coyne and co. found themselves in a position that no experimental rock group wants to be in, mundane. The only thing the group could do is this situation is to alter their sound drastically, and that's exactly what they did.
Embryonic is simply The Flaming Lip's most audacious release to date, and is also their most risky. For they might alienate and lose a lot of the fans who were interested in their crisp-positive vibe. Embryonic is dark, murky and bombastic. A lot of critics are making the note that it feels like Miles Davis's Bitches Brew. I believe this observation is spot on, this album takes sudden left turns without notice and flows with a fusion jazz spirit.
What I like about Embryonic is how it actually sounds like a band is jamming together in a room, not like their previous few records where it seems like each individual instrument was recorded then layered on each other. The drums and bass are loud and thunderous, akin to Black Sabbath. Wayne's voice and lyrics take a step backwards, and is not as present. However, his echoey voice in the background adds to the overall spaced out feel to this record.
What I don't care for is there are a few too many false-starts and sloppy improvisation for my liking. I feel that a majority of these tracks are necessary to the album, after all this is not just a collection of songs, they are all connected, the band wants to take you on a journey. It's just some of them aren't interesting enough to hold my attention.
Overall, Embryonic could be a huge step forward for this band, or a flop. I do enjoy this album and it more than lives up to the hype. One thing is for sure you can't scold an experimental band for experimenting, and you have to give them props for keeping their sound fresh and interesting.
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