The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin (1999/2017) [FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin (1999/2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 58:26 minutes | 659 MB | Genre: Alternative, Indie
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Warner Records

With their multi-disc opus „Zaireeka“ (four CDs meant to be played simultaneously on four different players), the Flaming Lips radically expanded the scope of their melancholy psychedelia, as pop tunes became modernist soundscapes, part-Pink Floyd, part-John Cage. Obviously, the experience greatly influenced the band’s direction, because on „The Soft Bulletin“ the Lips again scrap the guitar-bass-drum rock standard, sculpting instead a huge hi-fi record akin to a post-modern pet sounds with the vision of a humanist OK computer.

Long-time producer and Mercury Rev studio savant Dave Fridmann helps with the completion of a Spectorian sonic canvas, full of epic gestures (glorious sweeping strings arrangements) and brilliant details (well-placed thematic samples). The music adds a context of grandeur to Coyne’s lyrics of Zen and the cosmic joke. Songs like “Superman,” “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” and a half-dozen others, hint at the hopelessness of life’s outcome while maintaining a sense of faith (a common Lips theme). „The Soft Bulletin“ raises such pre-millennial realist/fantasy notions in the midst of a 90s “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and in the process setting a high bar for the last great rock-era records of the 20th century.

„So where does a band go after releasing the most defiantly experimental record of its career? If you’re the Flaming Lips, you keep rushing headlong into the unknown – The Soft Bulletin, their follow-up to the four-disc gambit Zaireeka, is in many ways their most daring work yet, a plaintively emotional, lushly symphonic pop masterpiece eons removed from the mind-warping noise of their past efforts. Though more conventional in concept and scope than Zaireeka, The Soft Bulletin clearly reflects its predecessor’s expansive sonic palette. Its multidimensional sound is positively celestial, a shape-shifting pastiche of blissful melodies, heavenly harmonies, and orchestral flourishes; but for all its headphone-friendly innovations, the music is still amazingly accessible, never sacrificing popcraft in the name of radical experimentation. (Its aims are so perversely commercial, in fact, that hit R&B remixer Peter Mokran tinkered with the cuts “Race for the Prize” and “Waitin’ for a Superman” in the hopes of earning mainstream radio attention.) But what’s most remarkable about The Soft Bulletin is its humanity – these are Wayne Coyne’s most personal and deeply felt songs, as well as the warmest and most giving. No longer hiding behind surreal vignettes about Jesus, zoo animals, and outer space, Coyne pours his heart and soul into each one of these tracks, poignantly exploring love, loss, and the fate of all mankind; highlights like “The Spiderbite Song” and “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” are so nakedly emotional and transcendentally spiritual that it’s impossible not to be moved by their beauty. There’s no telling where the Lips will go from here, but it’s almost beside the point – not just the best album of 1999, The Soft Bulletin might be the best record of the entire decade.“ (Jason Ankeny, AMG)

1. Race For The Prize (04:18)
2. A Spoonful Weighs A Ton (03:32)
3. The Spark That Bled (05:55)
4. Slow Motion (03:53)
5. What Is The Light? (04:05)
6. The Observer (04:10)
7. Waitin’ For A Superman (04:17)
8. Suddenly Everything Has Changed (03:54)
9. The Gash (04:02)
10. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate (05:17)
11. Sleeping On The Roof (03:10)
12. Race For The Prize (04:09)
13. Waitin’ For A Superman (04:19)
14. Buggin’ (03:16)

Wayne Coyne, vocals, keyboards, guitar, theremin
Michael Ivins, bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Steven Drozd, guitar, harmony vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, bass, drums, xylophone, glockenspiel, unison tuned pedal steel guitar

Recorded April 1997 – February 1999 at Tarbox Road Studios, Cassadaga, New York
Engineered by Dave Fridmann, The Flaming Lips
Produced by The Flaming Lips, Dave Fridmann, Scott Booker

Digitally remastered