The Flaming Lips - “King’s Mouth” Album Review
This album was originally released on July 19, 2019.
Well-known for their fantastical aesthetic and subject matter, The Flaming Lips have returned with their 15th studio album “King’s Mouth,” which may be their strangest concept album to date.
Maintaining a fairly strong cult following for a majority of their early work, The Flaming Lips eventually launched into mainstream success with their back-to-back hit albums, “The Soft Bulletin” and “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.” Best known for their hits “She Don’t Use Jelly,” “Do You Realize??” and “Race for the Prize,” the Flaming Lips have cemented themselves as one of the most influential and unique alternative bands of all time. Their most recent effort “King’s Mouth” is able to maintain the band’s iconic bizarre storytelling through a pleasantly surprising spoken-word narrative cameo, performed by legendary British rock artist Mick Jones of the Clash.
Taking on the form of a technicolor fever dream infused with elements of an odd bedtime story aesthetic, “King’s Mouth” takes the listener on a journey through the life of a king who lived and died for his people.
Opening with the track, “We Don’t Know How and We Don’t Know Why,” Mick Jones introduces the listener to a world far away in time and space where, inexplicably, a gigantic baby was born. Mick Jones’ voice successfully aids the album, lifting the Flaming Lips’ peculiar story and giving it a unique sound.
The next track, “The Sparrow,” is brimming with lulling successions of soft beats and mesmerizing grooves. Definitely a high point on the record, “The Sparrow” infuses a callback to the Flaming Lips’ previous style and most memorable works.
The album then somewhat begins to lose its grip on the listener. While several of the opening tracks attempt to experiment with some admirably interesting concepts and soundscapes, such as the sporadic “How Many Times,” the Flaming Lips seem to lose traction with where and how they wish to tell their story. Songs such as “Mother Universe” and “Electric Fire” feel unnecessary and detract from the record’s flow.
The momentum of the album doesn’t really begin to pick up again until the latter half of the record, where the story of the king really begins to take shape. The track “All for the Life of the City” explains how the king died while protecting the city from an oncoming avalanche. The Flaming Lips seem to reference grooves and elements reminiscent to that of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The layers of the song take on an almost Jackson Pollock-esque feel, where all of the sounds initially seem to be random and aimless but then converge to create a well-crafted symphony of engaging psych-pop melodies.
Maintaining the high energy of the album, the next two tracks, “Feedaloodum Beedle Dot” and “Funeral Parade,” explain how the townspeople severed the king’s head so that they could hold a ceremony in his honor. Zany and erratic, these tracks infuse a perfect blend of kaleidoscopic sounds in order to mystify and really immerse the listener in the king’s story.
Coming to a satisfying conclusion, the final moments of the album describe how the king’s head was submerged in steel and memorialized so that future generations could pay their respects to the savior of their city.
While “King’s Mouth” is able to weave in and out of a mystifying storyline, the elements of the story seem to be lacking development in certain crucial areas and lengthened in several unnecessary moments. Although it is an overall notable effort, the story falls apart in far too many areas to really warrant high revisiting potential. The beginning section of the record drags down the story’s flow to an almost tedious pace and is only rescued by the closing section’s magnificent execution of the story.
Hopefully in future releases, the Flaming Lips will be able to concentrate their distinct style into a more fleshed-out direction so that their efforts will really combine to create as iconic a record as the projects that initially brought the group widespread acclaim.
Reviewer’s Favorite Song: “All for the Life of the City”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Song: “Mother Universe” and “Electric Fire”
Scott Perdue is a junior majoring in secondary education. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.