Monday, May 31, 2010

Top 50 Albums of the 00s - #24: The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink robots

Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.

I originally had every belief that this album would wind up in the top 10. But in replaying the record, I came to realize that the top tracks are certainly superb, but we're left with some filler. But still, the Top 25 is nothing to sneeze at.

We open with "Fight Test", a sing-songy lullaby of a tune that if played by another band would be the perfect third single on an album. But with Wayne Coyne's thin vocals and all manner of goofy sound effects thrown into the mix, it's definitely their own, avoiding directness. And it does a fine job of setting the table. It's the dreamiest of songs and the introduction to a chaotically dreamy record.

As I said, on long-term listens, there is definitely something lacking from many of the songs. Much of the record makes for interesting background music, as oxymoronic as that may sound. The initial pull of an amusing song like "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1" just doesn't have legs. But the album continues smoothly on its floaty way before arriving at the track that vaulted it so high on this list.

"Do You Realize?" has been featured in countless commercials and pretty much overplayed to death. But it hasn't tarnished this wonderful tune at all. It is so compellingly catchy that it both breaks the sleepy state of the album and builds on the foundation already created. Beginning with a banal but breathy "1...2...3...4...", it soars from there, while remaining somewhat distant. But at the 1:30 mark, the beat comes in, then the key changes, and you realize that somehow the song has snuck up on you as something anthemic. "You realize that life goes fast, it's hard to make the good things last." Well, that's just totally trite yet universal at the same time. And somehow this all fits together into the perfect pop song for the early 00s.

Obviously The Flaming Lips laid the groundwork for this on 1999's The Soft Bulletin, and on the high points of this record, they hit their pinnacle of meshing bizarre sounds with good-enough-for-romantic-comedy pop songs. For all my bad-mouthing the staying power of the songs on this record, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Background music it may be, but it meshes with your life any day of the week. And when "Do You Realize?" makes its entrance you're going to sing along whether you're paying attention or not.

Previous Entries:
#25 - Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon
#26 - Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
#27 - Idlewild - 100 Broken Windows
#28 - Common - Be
#29 - The Futureheads - News and Tributes
#30 - The Black Keys - Rubber Factory
#31 - Wolfmother - Wolfmother
#32 - Juno - A Future Lived in Past Tense
#33 - Bad Religion - The New America
#34 - Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand

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