"I wish I could go back in time," Wayne Coyne yelps on the Flaming Lips' 12th record. In a sense, he has: These psych-rock mystics haven't sounded so off-the-wall since they were Oklahoma acidheads in the Eighties. Most of Embryonic sounds like laid-back echoes of Miles Davis' early-1970s skronk jazz, with distorted funk grooves undercutting pillowy vibraphones and zonked electronics. Despite tons of studio chaff (five songs are fragments named after zodiac signs), a theme emerges, something about keying into the cosmos by relinquishing control. Hippie hokum? Maybe. But the Lips have always been able to subvert pie-eyed whimsy with a sense of homespun beauty, and there's plenty of that here too.
From The Archives Issue 1089: October 15, 2009