The Flaming Lips’ American Head is on fire

Ben Pease, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The Flaming Lips have been writing and recording music as a band for three decades. Yet, even on their 17th studio record, American Head, they still maintain a sort of creative edge over other bands, a sort of distinct sound that only they can muster. 

This uncommon quality The Lips are able to produce in their music takes psychedelic rock to the extreme. Or maybe the band simply reached the pinnacle of the genre as a whole. 

Warner 2020

Typically, when creating psychedelic rock, bands are creating with synthesizers and overdubbed, fuzzy guitars. The Flaming Lips have these sounds, but they add more, they go beyond the template. 

The phrase “thinking outside the box” suits The Lips well. In fact, there’s never been a box to even be bothered with. In the past, they have put in a beatbox intro into “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” in the 1999 album “The Soft Bulletin”, recorded a full album as one fifty-five minute song called “The Terror”, as well as recorded covers of full albums “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club”.

Throughout American Head, lead singer Wayne Coyne’s lyrics are very personal, often dealing with his childhood involving drugs and death. Track 3 “Flowers on Neptune 6” includes lyrics like “doing acid and watching the light bugs go” and “John’s still a greaser and Tommy’s gone off to war…on my god why is it them?” 

What’s brilliant about American Head is that it fits perfectly in the catalog of the band’s archives. There’s a beauty in the familiarity but it also includes a new twist as well. They are constantly creating new sounds and tones to implement into their music to make it feel fresh and unique.

American Head may just be their best album yet, or possibly it is a sign that The Flaming Lips are only going to keep getting better as time goes on. Only time will tell as the wait for the 18th studio album begins.