Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The Flaming Lips – Silver Trembling Hands

Makeup and valkyries and Myspace.com!…


Briony Edwards: Wow, I thought I hated this band (I may have got them confused with the Polyphonic Spree), but this song is actually pretty cool. The dreamy, almost surreal melody and tone, when mixed with the solid, structured bass line, give a feel reminiscent of Clinic – which, in my opinion, is certainly a good thing. On top of this, they have enough weird screechy interludes to keep things interesting. One point minus for the squawky intro, which shocked my cat awake from a deep slumber, resulting in a nasty scratch on the face for me.

Michaelangelo Matos: Encouraging though the reports that Wayne Coyne had stopped adorably crinkling his voice might have been, I was far more intrigued by the friend who told me, “They sound like they’ve been listening to Clinic.” Judging from this, they have, but they’ve still got some give around the edges, which bridges things nicely.

Iain Mew: Takes a bit of the soppy balladry of the last couple of albums and chucks it down an echoey, noisy hole. It successfully flips the emphasis from the sentiment to the atmosphere and is a neat trick, albeit one that doesn’t exactly scream “single”.

Anthony Miccio: Embryonic‘s languid, repetitive dirges and bad-trip-Beach-Boys echo effects may turn rewarding after multiple drug-assisted listens, but Coyne and company are the sloppy Styxtramp here they’ve been all decade. Just sloppier.

Chuck Eddy: Think I read somewhere the new album is supposed to be their return to, uh, cutting-edge avant rock or something. I dunno, I probably wasn’t reading too close. Anyway, only thing along those lines I’m hearing here is the vaguely Kraut-rocky motorik pulse beneath all the usual preening snowflake bullshit up top. Which does not make this innovative. 25 years ago, they came off like a goofy stoned teenage Okie cross betwen Amon Duul and Led Zeppelin. This is yet more evidence that they’ve been heading downhill ever since.

Alfred Soto: Through acres of echo, glissandos, and ugly guitar, Wayne Coyne celebrates/evokes a psychedelic nightmare. A return to form, but I wonder what exactly the form is. These guys have always struck me as too old to sing about this shit. At least the man-children in Animal Collective have a couple of years’ grace period before they remember they’re over thirty.

John Seroff: What a curiosity: a song that diminishes in complexity the more you listen. “Trembling Hands” would certainly like to be thought of as dense and, on first listen, in certainly comes off beefy enough. Repeated exposure strips it to a series of nearly standalone parts, dressed up in papa ELO’s clothes and yelling across the room at each other.

Ian Mathers: I mean, good for them for finally making the texture of the music kind of interesting again (even if it’s via nothing more groundbreaking than harpsichords + fuzz), but there’s not much of a song here, is there? Given how godawful their last few albums have been this is a triumph just for being sort of boring instead of wince-inducing, but still, the Flaming Lips remain a band without a point.

Anthony Easton: I like the idea and the aesthetic apparatus that surrounds the Lips, esp. the live shows, more than the music. But I like having something that has the extended, riff-laden, experimental centrality that almost moves into jam band territory, but has a sense of humour about itself — mostly because it means I do not have to listen to Phish.

2 Responses to “The Flaming Lips – Silver Trembling Hands”

  1. The references to Clinic (whom I adore) gave me a nasty shock; upon listening to this again, yes, that opening section does sound a lot like Clinic. But then everything goes gooey, and anyway Wayne Coyne has a much worse voice than Ade Blackburn (and let’s not get into lyrics – at their worst Clinic are at least still gnomically menacing, this is just nothing). But really, the only parts here that sound like Clinic are the bits that also sound like Suicide, and it’s not enough to save the song – Clinic usually has hooks, for example.

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