The Soft Bulletin

Once you've labored in cult obscurity, fielded rumors that John Tesh wanted to cover one of your songs, appeared on Beverly Hills 90210, composed an orchestra for forty automobile tape decks and enjoyed a minuscule Top Forty blip, what do you do for a follow-up? The eccentric Oklahoma outfit Flaming Lips serenely release another baffling, winning, neopsychedelic recording. Densely textured, awkward but somehow melodic, The Soft Bulletin finds these pop oddballs with their poker-faced humor firmly intact — "When you got that spider bite on your hand/I thought we would have to break up the band," sings Wayne Coyne in his strained Neil Young-style voice, referring to an accident that could only have happened to the Lips, and did. Their music isn't, how you say, universally accessible, and the weirdness gets same-y, but no one else has posited a parallel universe in which the Sixties and the Nineties exist simultaneously, allowing for a peculiarly convincing brand of monolithic robotic swirl.

From The Archives Issue 813: May 27, 1999