February 08, 1988 12:00 PM

The Flaming Lips

Rock bands that try to destroy musical clichés deserve a lot of admiration. Too bad so many innovators—like Sonic Youth and Throwing Muses—create such pretentious, annoying albums that only a masochist could enjoy. There is an alternative, however, as the Flaming Lips show on their second album. Though this Oklahoma trio blasts at the eardrums and challenges the brain, they also write very likable songs. Everything’s Exploding, with its earthquake guitar riffs, catchy melody and defiant lyrics, is a hell-breaks-loose number that can soothe even on one of those what-else-can-go-wrong days. Though nearly every song on the album includes some degree of chaos, each note still sounds precise; silence, whispers and acoustic strumming dramatically weave around crashing chords and feedback. Oh My Gawd!!! pays homage to a wide range of sources, including Pink Floyd, the Beatles and even The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Paul Dukas. A lot of psychedelic touches, including a wigged-out album design, come across as parody. Yet even when the lyrics and music become equally sarcastic, they can be enjoyed at face value. Love Yer Brain discusses suicide, murder and other horrors, then mockingly concludes, “So I guess I was right all along reading Mad Magazine.” By the melody’s end, the dirgelike piano accompaniment reverts to banging on the keys. Then the album ends with thuds and yelps as the band smashes the piano. Only the Flaming Lips could turn a send-up of rock ‘n’ roll mess-making into a darned good percussion solo. (Restless)

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