WHO ARE THEY? The fearlessly freaky, artfully psychedelic and mind-bendingly theatrical Oklahoma oddballs fronted by corkscrew-maned frontman/ringleader Wayne Coyne.
WHAT IS THIS? The first official live release of their three decade-plus career, believe it or not. And not just any live album: As the overly wordy, on-the-nose title The Soft Bulletin Recorded Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre Featuring the Colorado Symphony Orchestra & Andre de Ridder makes painfully clear, this majestically maximalist 2016 live recording finds The Flaming Lips recreating the American version of their 1999 breakthrough disc The Soft Bulletin in full and in order, with the technicolour backing of a 68-piece symphony orchestra and 57-piece chorus.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? The best-sounding drug trip you’ve ever taken. Thanks to the superb stylish orchestrations created by Denver multi-instrumentalist Tom Hager of DeVotchka, the army of additional performers manage to complement these cuts instead of competing with the band’s epic concept piece about life, love, disillusionment and death.
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? The Sound They Made Was Love — a line from the song A Spoonful Weighs a Ton.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While rolling around your living room in a giant hamster ball — preferably clad in a tuxedo, with a splash of fake blood on your forehead, just to complete the bizarre picture.
WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Grand, sophisticated, whimsical, lush, trippy, layered, sweeping, weird, melancholy, spiritual.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The shimmering sunrise of Race For the Prize, the bittersweet Waitin’ For a Superman and the groovy Suddenly Everything Has Changed. Pity this disc doesn’t include the non-album encores (including David Bowie’s Space Oddity).
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘Are we really supposed to believe that nobody filmed this performance or recorded it in 5.1 audio?’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? Whenever you want to soak up some Lips and feel a little highbrow at the same time.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE AN ACTIVITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Spacewalking as the Sun slowly rises over the lip of the Earth.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Tempted as I would be to shell out for this, it can’t hurt to wait and see if there’s a bigger, better version coming down the pipe.