"The Flaming Lips pay superfluous, superficial tribute to Beatles with newest LP"
ÒWith a Little Help from My FwendsÓ falls short of its namesake
Album: With A Little Help from My Fwends
Artist: The Flaming Lips
Label: Warner Bros. Records
Release Date: October 27
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a classic Beatles album, isn’t so lonely anymore with The Flaming Lips' paying homage to the massively influential band – though the tribute is questionable.
The Flaming Lips’ 14th studio album, With a Little Help from My Fwends gives a modernized, track-for-track tribute and rework of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
This isn’t the first time The Flaming Lips has given a personal spin on a classic album. In 2009, The Lips released their own version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, to widespread criticism.
Over their 13 previous albums, The Flaming Lips have carefully cultivated their eccentric sound – a scatterbrained, neo-psychedelic rock that has been trademarked by the band.
It is through their own trippy kaleidoscope that The Flaming Lips have transformed the Beatles’ album.
Back when it was released, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was hailed as the birth of a new rock album – a revolutionary LP that was able to turn the recording studio into something larger-than-life, tangible and profound. The album was perfectly complete – thematically and aurally. Every song built onto and added to the rest.
But in With a Little Help from My Fwends, The Flaming Lips have lost the special ‘togetherness’ for which the original Beatles album is known and lauded.
The album features a diverse and lengthy collection of featuring artists, such as My Morning Jacket, Fever the Ghost, Black Pus, Miley Cyrus, Moby, Dr. Dog, Chuck Inglish, Tegan and Sara, Grace Potter and Foxygen.
Together with The Flaming Lips esoteric and complex sound, these artists add so much to an already jam-packed album.
It’s confusing and stifling.
The featuring artists, already from such a broad genre range from pop to folk to electronic, clash in a way that makes this album feel superficial at times and unorganized the next.
On “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” The Flaming Lips take their heavily reverbed style and try to add in Miley Cyrus and Moby. The result is a surge of rough sound that tries to maintain Miley Cyrus’s airy vocal range with harshly filtered instrumentals – an effect that takes away from the album’s coherence.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t some good individual tracks.
“Getting Better,” featuring Dr. Dog, Chuck Inglish and Morgan Delt, is a playful extra-psychedelic twist on the original – but not so much as to stifle the original song’s atmospheric value.
On “Good Morning Good Morning,” the featuring artists (Zorch, Grace Potter and Treasure Mammal) coalesce in the way that the rest of the album’s guests should. Grace Potter adds a vibrato that fits flawlessly in with the psychedelic vibes of the song.
With a Little Help from My Fwends has been widely publicized as a charity album – all proceeds will go to the Bella Foundation, an organization in Oklahoma City dedicated to veterinary care.
But beyond its charitable intentions, the album ultimately falls short of its illustrious namesake.
The Flaming Lips might have tried to do too much with this album – perhaps understandable given their intimidating ingredients.
Make sure not to choke on the mismatched, indigestible mess.