The Flaming Lips are the promise of rock & roll fulfilled. After years of delicious but empty pop, pretentious concept albums, underdeveloped rock operas and the long, dark wasteland that was the late '80s, the Flaming Lips emerged trailing clouds of psychedelic glory. They are the locus of cerebellum and pelvis, the perfect union of thinking fellers rocking and rock dudes thinkin'. Somehow the Flaming Lips dragged their nets through the vast ocean of rock's backwater and salvaged all the submerged gold but none of the dross. Last year's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots continues the ascending trajectory the Lips launched with The Soft Bulletin, folding in electronic thump and twitter with the acid-damaged Wilsonisms, white-fuzz-tinged Reedisms, catchy Bacharachanalia and mutant country twang sandwiched between alternating layers of art-punk and mod-rock wafers they already had.
Wayne Coyne's voice, ever-so-slightly blown (like an old tube amp), remains the voice of humanistic reason, urging kindness to everyone, including ourselves. And that's just on album. Live, he's part hype man, part motivational speaker and part bandleader, conducting a prerecorded orchestra, pounding an eight-foot gong and singing along with a videotaped version of himself while silver confetti drifts ankle-deep on the stage and audience. And then two dancing rabbits appear, and it's as if you've suddenly been transported into the greatest, silliest snow globe Tex Avery ever made.