Iiiiiiit’s the best album by The Flaming Lips. Well, that’s the general consensus on The Soft Bulletin anyway. This 1999 LP both represents a sea change in The Flaming Lips’ writing style and also stands the most effective marriage of the band’s prog and pop sides. At its best, The Soft Bulletin is baroque and masterful in a manner that makes it more than worthy of all the Pet Sounds comparisons it’s had down the years.
Vinyl Double LP £29.99 093624952183
Reissue 2LP on Warners.
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- The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips
8/10 MissingPlanet 4th September 2014
This album has generated over a decade’s worth of glowing reviews and is indeed really, really good but what doesn’t seem to get said is that it could have been better. There seems to have been (in the UK CD track sequence at least) a requirement to make every fourth track a stinker. It starts with the glorious trio of Race For The Prize, A Spoonful Weighs A Ton and The Spark That Bled and then thumps you back to reality with the dull Slow Motion. Be glad you’re not listening to the US version though, as here they have The Spiderbite Song; a song so bad it would fit right into At War With The Mystics.
Then come What Is The Light?, The Observer and Waitin’ For A Superman, but these three perfect ten songs drop you from an enormous height into Suddenly Everything Has Changed and you’re again left wandering what happened to the good stuff.
The record should end with The Gash, Feeling Yourself Disintegrate and Sleeping On The Roof, the last two of which can make riding the bus to work on a wet winter’s morning an uplifting experience, but then it’s record label interference time and you get three remixes. The Mokran mix of Race For The Prize comes first and is the perfect paradigm of how small changes to a song can ruin it. Waitin’ For A Superman’s Mokran mix stands up well to its parent song with a pleasant bass line but is hardly more than a b-side. The record ends three songs too late with the inoffensive Buggin’ remix.
Make it 9 songs long and it’s better than the classic it’s made out to be. I suspect the sheer quality of most of the record (and turning it off before the remixes) makes people forget its low points. I love it for all its faults.