EMBRYONIC TRAYThe Flaming Lips are a band that has built a long career out of making music that challenges listeners. Their instrumental freak outs, sci-fi themed lyrics, and the oddly soothing qualities of lead singer Wayne Coyne’s voice have been trademarks of the Oklahoma City band since they first started making music in the mid-80’s.

Their two main releases this decade, 2002’s “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and 2006’s “At War With the Mystics,” saw the band grow in popularity as they continued to tread their own path. Although widely inconsistent, the best moments on their newest album, “Embryonic,” demonstrate why The Flaming Lips are truly one of a kind.

The band is at their best on “Embryonic” when they concentrate their experimental tendencies. Songs such as “See the Leaves,” The Ego’s Last Stand,” and “Silver Trembling Hands” utilize the group’s diverse sounds and focuses them into tight pop songs that are at once catchy and endearing. The mix of guitars and electronics push these tracks along, while Coyne’s voice acts as the force that fuses it all together.

However, there are many moments on this 18 song album that many will find puzzling. For example, several songs require a lyrics sheet, as the vocals are either too distorted or distant amidst the wall of sounds. Other tracks, such as album opener “Convinced of the Hex,” are all over the place musically. At over an hour long, these tracks can make the album a challenging listen for those expecting the more straightforward faire of “Yoshimi” or “At War With the Mystics.”

Despite its drawbacks, “Embryonic” is still worth listening to. The majority of the songs are well executed, and it is very unlikely that you will hear another album like it this year. While it can be a very frustrating listen for some, it is all a part of The Flaming Lips appeal, and is one of the things that has made them a relevant and important band well in to their third decade.

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