Album A Day #54 - The Soft Bulletin
Artist: Flaming Lips
Album: The Soft Bulletin
Year Released: 1999
No. of Discs: 1
No. of Tracks: 12
1. Race for the Prize
2. A Spoonful Weighs a Ton
3. The Spark That Bled
4. The Spiderbite Song
6. What Is the Light?
7. The Observer
8. Waitin' for a Superman
9. Suddenly Everthing Has Changed
10. The Gash
11. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
12. Sleeping on the Roof
If you have never heard The Flaming Lips, this would be the album to start with. When I first heard this record it stayed in my CD player for months. The emotion as Wayne Coyne sings about bugs, superman, and emotions themselves is graceful and heartfelt while even being a bit corny at times (like on this excerpt from “The Spiderbite Song” - "When you got that spider bite on your hand / I thought we would have to break up the band / to lose your arm would surely upset your brain").
The Soft Bulletin, a perfect mix of pop and psychedelia, is the Lips' follow-up to the ridiculously ambitious Zaireeka. Zaireeka, a 4-disc set, was one of the most bizarre releases in music history because it required the listener to play all four CD's simultaneously in order to hear the album as it was intended. Who the hell owns 4 CD players?
The first four tracks Of The Soft Bulletin are especially notable. "Race for the Prize" opens with a symphonic swell of strings, an omen of the lack of guitars on the album. Wayne Coyne may be the only human on the earth who makes Geddy Lee sound like a baritone. Coyne's helium voice floats over the strings and tethers itself to the keyboards, giving life to the song with narrative and reflection both wonderous and intelligent. That’s followed by “A Spoonful Weighs A Ton”, a richly orchestrated gem. The third track "The Spark That Bled," morphs from a string-drenched sing-along to a schizophrenic plucking session. It still gives me goosebumps when Coyne proudly sings at the chorus: ‘I stood up and I said 'Yeah!’. Then “The Spiderbite Song” comes along. I love this track with it’s over-driven drums laying the foundation for the tasty piano, unusual sound effects and percussion accents.
"Buggin'" is the album's most shameless pop song, while "The Observer" takes you on a pretty, layered instrumental ride. "Waitin' for a Superman" also shines brightly, a piano-driven song that inspires more hope than anything I've heard in some time.