Album: The Flaming Lips, The Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends (Bella Union)

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The Independent Culture

It has been a long time since the Lips delivered what fans lured in by the cosmic pop of The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi… might consider a "proper" album. The experimental 2009 album Embryonic was a tough listen, and subsequent projects haven't been much easier.

Their first album with Bella Union doesn't completely reverse that trend, but it goes some of the way. Each track on …Heady Fwends is a collaboration with a different guest star, and there are some big names in there, starting with Ke$ha on opener "2012 (You Must Be Upgraded)".

"Ashes in the Air", featuring Bon Iver, seems to reprise Yoshimi's themes, while the fuzzed-out guitar of "Children of the Moon", featuring Tame Impala, is perhaps the album's loveliest moment.

A track called "Is David Bowie Dying?" isn't the only controversy magnet here. The dream-like cover of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" is accompanied by a quasi-porno video in which Erykah Badu and her body double (her sister) are drenched in a glutinous white fluid, causing Badu to freak when she saw the final cut.

One day, maybe the Lips will play nice again. Until then, they and their Fwends have given us plenty to get our heads around.