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Album Review: American Head by The Flaming Lips


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The Flaming Lips are a rock band from Oklahoma. While starting in the 80s, they didn't reach commercial success until the late 90s and early 2000s. Since then, they have released several commercial albums, cover albums, and collaborative albums. While being around since the 80s, it's surprising that they are still releasing music, and decent music at that. American Head marks their sixteenth studio album.

The first track from the album is Will You Return / When You Come Down. The track opens up with a quick synth/electronic blurb. After that blurb goes out, you get your piano introduction as well as some quiet bells that set the tone of the track, and the album to come. With the vocals, the track seems to focus on the title of the track, and it goes back and forth between the two titles of the track. The frontman, Wayne Coyne has talked about how some of his friends have died from either a tragic car accident, or a drug overdose. This track has a survivor's guilt type feeling for them. They also talk about how their friends are dead, but floating around their bed now. The track ends with a guitar outro, which is surprising since they went almost the entire track without a guitar.

Watching the Lightbugs Glow opens up with a slow rush of a drumbeat, as well as some washed out synth notes. This is mainly just an instrumental track. You do have some inaudible vocals that are carried out through the track, but nothing of any significance. However, I do enjoy the vocal lul, since it adds a nice touch and variety to the track. It's also Kacey Musgraves that sings on this track, so what's not to like? We do have another track with her later on.

The last track flows well into Flowers of Neptune 6. The track basically has a guitar that has some repeating arpeggios that are carried out through the track. However, there are times where the synths and strings easily overpower the guitar part. About halfway through, the track has a groove started that is so entrancing. Wayne Coyne talks about how this track just mirrors the previous track since this is supposed to be some big grand track for them. The end of the track returns to the guitar's arpeggios from the beginning.

Dinosaurs on the Mountain has an almost 8-bit like feeling to it with the repeated line of notes at the beginning. It eventually cuts out and you have Wayne's vocals as well as a soothing guitar part added to the mix. Eventually during the chorus, you have Wayne's voice muffled, but have the chorus of voices being the prominent feature. He talks about the time where he used to see dinosaurs in the trees on his way to Pittsburgh as a child. However, now that he's older, he doesn't see them anymore, and more darker thoughts come to mind, such as if the person driving the car would fall asleep and crash.

At the Movies on Quaaludes opens up with a soft and serene piano that is prominent throughout the track. Wayne eventually comes in with another person singing, but it seems more so that they are speaking the part. It's no surprise that Wayne Coyne is referencing drugs since they have continued to stand by their motto of making music about anything they feel like making music about. He talks about how when people leave a movie theater, you are suddenly taken aback and return to the real world.

Continuing on their motto, they come out with Mother I've Taken LSD. It's a bit surprising to see this coming from them, it just seems humorous the first time through. However, you eventually get used to hearing this from him with more listens. Wayne Coyne reminisces about a time in elementary school and how people would always come in and tell you that drugs are bad for you. However, he had an older brother that would do these types of things, which led him to a similar lifestyle.

Brother Eye opens up with a high-pitched sound, that almost sounds like morse code in some odd way. Once the opening is over, you have your guitars as well as more electronic synth sounds to add to the heavy electronic production. This track is probably the most meaningful to Steven since it has to do with his brother. The majority of the track talks about his brother living forever, and just reminiscing on the old times.

You n Me Sellin' Weed sounds like another weird track title. It starts out as a calm, mostly acoustic track, but talks about the events of them when they were younger. The track speeds up for some quick bits. Wayne Coyne gave a brief description of the track on Apple Music. He said that he used to sell weed when he was younger since he was making decent money, but stopped since he was afraid he'd get caught and go to jail. However, he talks about a friend who ended up murdering a dealer since he owed him a lot of money and threatened to hurt his family. Yeah.. This track got dark real quick. At least the last minute of the track just drones on with the string section.

Mother Please Don't Be Sad talks about another experience from Wayne Coyne as a teenager. It's another track that's laced with a quiet piano part at the beginning, as well as the vocal harmonies. He talks about being robbed at gunpoint when he was 17 when he was working his job. Wayne also talks about how his mother was going to wonder where he was at, but he feared that he was going to die. It didn't seem like a positive outcome for him at the time.

That last track smoothly runs in to When We Die When We're High, which was repeated throughout the chorus of the previous track. The drum beat makes it a little bit more exciting and upbeat than the last track. This is mainly just an instrumental track, with a few vocals here and there repeating the phrase from the title. Other than that, there are a few standouts, like the drum beat that keeps the track going, as well as the guitar part later in the track.

Assassins of Youth opens up with inaudible vocal syllables. You eventually have your humming synth notes and the normal guitar you have heard throughout the album. This was originally going to be with their Deap Lips collaborative album earlier this year, but nothing ever came from it. However, they revisited it and this is what they were able to gain from it. It's about not knowing what a message is really about, but being okay with not knowing the true meaning.

God and the Policeman was definitely one of my favorite tracks from the album. It's just so quiet and serene with the bell notes. Also, you can't go wrong with Kacey Musgraves on this track. With the quiet and peacefulness, it does have to do with another story from Wayne's past, and it has to do with one of his friends that dealt drugs. That friend ended up killing that dealer too and, well, he doesn't exactly know where he is or what he's doing with his life. On a side note, I just wish this track was a bit longer.

The last track from the album is My Religion Is You. To Wayne Coyne, this is like a folk song to him, even though it doesn't really have that many folk elements to it until the middle of the track. Besides the minimalist instrumentation, this has a lot to do with the title, religion. He talks about never 'needing' religion in life and how his religion is his mother. However, he also points out that if you are a religious person, own it.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Favorite Tracks: Will You Return / When You Come Down, Watching the Lightbugs Glow, You n Me Sellin' Weed, Mother Plesae Don't Be Sad, God and the Policeman

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