The Funny Or Die-produced and insubstantial Flaming Side of the Moon, accompanied by its comical skits and fake commercials, is just another gimmick in the Flaming Lips’ long list of post-Embryonic gimmick-laden offerings, which include gummy-bear EPs and twenty four-hour long songs. Where once there was a USB stick encased in a skull, now there is an unnecessary album embellished with a slew of skits.
This record, however, is even more wounding to the band’s credibility, since it was declared a “joke” almost immediately after its release, so as not to be taken seriously, despite the obviously significant amount of effort that was poured into it. It is an unnecessary addition to the canon of the Flaming Lips, and the more needless musical appendages the band chooses to add, the less significant their more comprehensive works will seem, especially when one cannot tell which is a joke and which is a serious effort made by a serious, albeit eccentric, pack of musicians.
In the official press release, the group claimed that Flaming Side of the Moon could be listened to concurrently with both Pink Floyd’s masterful The Dark Side of the Moon as well as The Wizard of Oz. The album does indeed sync with both the record and the aforementioned film. And self-effacing witticism or not, Flaming Side of the Moon is indeed an album – produced by Funny or Die, accompanied by some very funny sketches, and even released together with a full-length video of the band quietly and painstakingly working on the near-hour-long piece.
Perhaps, for the band, the pleasure of creating so much material in so little time and releasing it in such different ways is preferable to a more serious approach to music-making, or at least a clearer delineation of what is a distraction and what is of substance. The Flaming Lips’ music is unconventional and bizarre as it is, but it doesn’t help that their method involves releasing so much material in such short intervals, where so much is not given much time or attention to be properly understood, mulled over, or even remembered.
Certainly, the course the band has taken suggests their wish to communicate creativity on a constant basis, to do what they enjoy doing, and to let an entire audience watch and listen to this spirit of creation scampering with inventive ideals. But not everything that is created is worthy of being released and listened to, and especially not under a name like The Flaming Lips – a name with a much more substantial legacy (and also the sole reason that these contemporary releases by the band are talked about, let alone listened to).
Perhaps these whims of released, distributed, and ingested creativity could work well in a gallery setting – as an art piece, perhaps, meant to be looked at and contemplated as a whole rather than by its individual pieces, but even that would present an image that embodies not quite creativity but continual consumerism – or creativity as consumerism. Puzzlingly, that may be exactly what this flurry of erratic Flaming Lips releases represents more than anything else at all.
Reviews published prior to February 23, 2015 used a 1-5 star rating system.