CD Reviews

The Flaming Lips
The Soft Bulletin
Warner Bros.

Your band has worked long and hard, building a near-fanatical cult following. You had a guest appearance on 90210. You released an album that was spread out across four separate CDs, which need to be played all at once (on four separate boom boxes, natch) to reach your desired faux-psychedelic effect. Some of your concerts call for 40 people to park their cars next to one another and play your tapes on their stereos. How do you top all this? Listen to: The Flaming Lips
Real Audio Format Race for the Prize A Spoonful Weighs a Ton Buggin'
Download the RealPlayer FREE! Do you go for something even bigger and more obtuse? No, space boy—you float back down to earth and cut a single modest disc that's one of the most lusciously layered, haphazardly harmonic albums released this year. Such is the saga of the Flaming Lips' The Soft Bulletin, a broad mini-epic that goes from soothing melodies to thunderous, got-it-going-on beats. It's easily the band's most commercial disc, but don't call them sellouts—not when they still have enough nerve to dally in airy piano riffs, string sections, and, as always, singer Wayne Coyne's almost childlike story songs that are equal parts tragic, humbling and innocent, set to a playful barrage of the Lips' brand of circus music gently tripping in the background.

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