The Flaming Lips. They’ve had a long and colourful career, starting out in 1983 as a punk rock band, taking a few detours through the landscapes of psychedelia and electronic pop music experimentation, before ending up squarely in the ever-expanding indie genre.
Like many others, I became aware of them in 2002 when they released Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, which I bought and which subsequently blew my mind. I’d never heard anything like it, and I probably won’t hear anything like it again, and I’d happily reserve a spot for it on my list of top ten albums if I was ever forced to make such a list (and was reminded that I’d reserved a spot for this album in it). Then I got The Soft Bulletin, the album which preceded Yoshimi, which was also great. I also got access to a FTP server where members were sharing rare releases and bootlegs from the band, where I found some real gems – like the soundtrack to the film Okie Noodling, stereo-mixes of the experimental Zaireeka album, and an unreleased collection of The Soft Bulletin-era tracks (demos, sessions, or otherwise unreleased songs) called The Soft Bulletin Companion. It seemed the band could do no wrong, having produced so much catchy high quality music in recent years.
But three years later, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots was followed by 2006’s disappointing At War With The Mystics, which was followed by the even more disappointing Embryonic in 2009. So it seemed the band had gone from “could do no wrong” to “could do no good”. But the band has produced some good songs post-Yoshimi, it’s just that many of them haven’t always been on the albums, but on soundtracks, online releases, and singles. And one of these songs is this week’s pick; I had a hard time deciding, as there are some really good ones to be found, but in the end I went for “The Tale Of The Horny Frog” from the soundtrack to 2007’s The Heartbreak Kid. It’s a fun, memorable song, about an unlucky toad who’s keen on reproducing. Hopefully the band will one day release a compilation compiling all their soundtrack contributions, and perhaps some of their B-sides and other odds’n ends. But seeing as how the excellent The Soft Bulletin Companion never got a proper release, I wouldn’t hold my breath.