By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Singer-guitarist Wayne Coyne approaches his craft with an overwhelming acid naivete; to him, every sound in the universe is important, or at least worth exploring. In fact, the sounds on Clouds are far more important than song structure. Coyne's panoramic view of pop travels the line from Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd to the Butthole Surfers, making all stops in between.
The Lips are either some the world's most clever plagiarists or latent geniuses on the verge of discovering their potential. For the Flaming Lips there are no rules. Coyne kills some perfectly fine vocal melodies with his quavering voice, while, for the most part, delicate melodies and song fragments are mangled by screeching guitars and fuzzy mayhem. The songs are beautiful cakes garnished with metal shavings. Their previous album, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, almost fooled the mainstream based on the oddball appeal of "She Don't Use Jelly." After that they toured extensively, then retreated back to the studio to prepare further surprises.
On stage, the Flaming Lips recreate their studio wizardry by turning knobs (especially up) and stepping on pedals. The sheer overkill in the volume department metamorphoses them into a mean, loud sonic machine that produces muscular riffs bristling with verve. The mind-bending effect is similar to that of their albums, bless their satellite hearts.
The Flaming Lips perform May 24 at Trees. Richard Davies opens.