Review: Flaming Lips & Fwends – With a little help from my fwends

fwends

After absconding from Sloucher in late April, I was roped in to review once again for that fat twat and his cohorts. I had a good time reviewing EPs by real bands a couple of weeks ago and then I heeded the call to review a new Flaming Lips album.

How bad could it be? I like them. I mean, my fave song of theirs is ‘She don’t use jelly’ because I’m old and shit. I liked them back then. Sure, I saw them and thought: “man, these fuckers are trying to ride the coattails of the Blind Melon hippie organic free range fair trade vegan friendly gravy peace train.” And I wasn’t wrong, just being an asshole. But somewhere along the line they started doing different music, a delicious fondue of psychedelia with pop that would’ve gone well if marinated with Strawberry Alarm Clock and The Moody Blues.

Then strange things happened. Wars of words with musicians. Strange NSFW videos. Then hanging out with Miley Cyrus. Then Hyperion liberated the Titans and the Greek Gods re-enact Saint Seiya while Superman kicks The Wrestler‘s ass.

Yeah, you already saw me dropping the Miley Cyrus name and thought “oh, you are gonna cling on that?” Well, first of all: fuck you for prejudging me, you premature evaluator, you. Second of all: I don’t mind Miley Cyrus. C’mon, you probably remember a scandalous trendy pop artist in every single decade. It’s a gimmick and it works fine and dandy for said artist. I file Miley Cyrus with Alice Cooper, Madonna, Marilyn Manson and Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera. Live and let pop die by its own gimmick acts of varying talent.

ANYWAYS, I’m here to review With a little help from my fwends [sic], the latest shovel load of undigested bolus from the once great(ish) now very pretentious Flaming Lips. Should’ve stayed inside that bubble dude. Really, once you out-pretentious that Frankenstein-foreheaded fuck from Arcade Fire and his cohorts, you know you’ve made it.

We open with ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club’ aping that drum from Queens’ ‘Flash Theme’. Look, I love Jim James but he’s a little lost in the mix here. And that’s all that I have to say about this track. It loses the bombastic punch of the original and now it is similar to listening to music while underwater. The track warbles and you kind of hear the original buried there, next to Old Yeller. ‘With a little help from my friends’ opens up with a drumming bit that would make Dieselboy happy but once the vocals start, warbling with autotune then being juxtaposed with a distant yelling you start to wonder “why bother?

Indeed. Why bother? ‘Lucy in the sky with Diamonds’ tries to go for a quiet build-up and a fast but slow (!) chorus that sacrifices catchiness for bombast. It does work and shit on a Pritt stick, Miley Cyrus voice is pretty good here, with little reverb. Moby, however, sampled his vocals and annoyingly repeats “gone, gone, gone, gone” like a bad Family Guy joke (think the “ooh, aaah, sssss!” knee joke that Seth McFarlane and company milked.)

‘Being for the benefit of Mr. Kite!’ doesn’t shy for the strange shenanigans of Puscifer and it’s okay. I’m detached enough from the Beatles to actually enjoy this. Heck, I like covers of Beatles songs but can’t stand the Beatles themselves. This one actually works but I’m still perplexed by the insistence of drowning the music into white noise and ambient noises. C’mon, if I wanted this, I’d listen to Xiu Xiu, who actually mastered that unnerving glitchy style of musical experimentation.

Hey, wait, do you like the quirkiness of the chamber pop of ‘When I’m sixty four’? Skip the cover. It’s a terrible EDM experiment that has seen itself on the mirror and paid a back alley plastic surgeon to do a botched fix me up. ‘Lovely Rita’ actually works, even if it’s following the template from ‘When I’m sixty four’.

Do you know the expression “skeleton in the closet”? Of course you do. You’ve heard of “guilty pleasures, right? Yes, you do and I’m sorry for asking two very condescending questions, but I’m just getting into the vibe of this album. That’s the problem with the whole of With a little help from my fwends: it’s condescending. It assumes it can do a better job than The Beatles and as I mentioned before: I don’t like the Beatles but have enjoyed covers of Beatles songs. In this case, however, they are trying to out-Beatles the Beatles and that’s where the condescension comes from: those four Liverpudlians weren’t trying to outdo anyone else; they just did a shitload of drugs and experimented on the studio with uneven results. They were a product of their time and people love them for two reasons: they were there or they grew up listening to them and it reminds them of better times or relatives (parents, uncles, you know the drill) that loved The Beatles. Me? I don’t care about them even if two thirds of my brood love them.

And my point in the previous paragraph is this: I actually love ‘A day in the life’. I love how overdramatic it is. I love the cryptic lyrics that only make sense once you devour a shitload of Wikipedia articles explaining where Lennon and McCartney were coming from (besides a cocktail of interesting chemicals). I enjoy the dissonance created by the orchestra that was paid to do Macca’s bidding (I’d taken a shower in turpentine afterwards.) I like that fucking piano ending. It’s the only Beatles song I own.

“They done fucked it up”, as Angry Joe would say. The one song they should’ve done right they took to the back of the shed, tarred and feathered it and made it a risible spectacle. I’m done with this fucking crap, even if there are two ok songs in it. Fuck reviewing. I’m giving up.

Saying this is a bad album is a disservice to crap like Lulu or Viva La Vida or Death and all his friends. No, this is some serious waste of studio time, mixing and production and talent. This piece of shit should’ve been left inside the same vault Jerry Lewisholocaust film is rotting in. This, my friends, is the worst album I’ve heard in my entire time at this Shithole of a Website(TM) called Sloucher and I’ve already suffered Nicki Minaj, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Zoé, Jai Paul and Coldplay.

Heck, I FUCKING HATE THE BEATLES and this album actually made me go and buy an original copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club and play it. After listening to it 4 times in a row, I made some toast with margarine (natch) and piled on the orange marmalade while shouting: She don’t use butter / She don’t use cheese / She don’t use jelly / or any of these / She uses Vaseline.

PS: I know all proceeds go to The Bella Foundation (link) and I love pets like hell and I shouldn’t be hard on something that goes for charity, even if it’s as terrible as this. Instead of buying this album, just donate directly to the charity. WAIT: Maybe the whole point of this release was to actually do a bad album that would incense all that online bad publicity we love in this morbid information era and shine a light unto The Bella Foundation. If this was the whole point (and I wouldn’t put it past Wayne “DO YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW I GOT THESE SCARS?” Coyne) then bravo, sir.

PSS: If you want GOOD Flaming Lips experimentation, try Zaireeka. Actually great stuff.

And that’s all she wrote. Goodbye, carbon units.

Words: Orestes P.S. Xistos

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