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It was a decade ago that The Soft Bulletin pushed The Flaming Lips from alt-rock one-hit wonders (at least in terms of the general public's view) to full-on contender status. Although things did not really coalesce until 2002's Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and its hit single "Do You Realize", Bulletin matched their trademark sense of bizarre spectacle with newly Herculean production and sweeping melodic gestures. And so the group that once famously festooned venues entirely in such lo-fi props as christmas lights and bubble machines finally gained the clout to turn their live show into a three-ring festival circus. At first, it was truly inspiring to behold—the sight of leader Wayne Coyne climbing over top of the crowd in a giant, clear ball was too insane and joyous to not love completely. But after some seven years of seeing them open every concert with "Race For The Prize"—and an equal amount of time without anything resembling a great record—it felt like the spectacle had consumed the music. What was once one of the most unpredictable and challenging bands in indie rock had become a Cirque du Soleil for hipsters. Thankfully, Embryonic takes the rule book that this band has constructed in recent years and it pretty much sends it to hell. No singles, not anything even approaching a pop song. Instead, a dark cloud of paranoia and groove dominates the album.

As stated by many already, it is indeed a unified recording—all 18 tracks are dedicated to a single message and approach. As a result, The Flaming Lips have truly made an album worth talking about again. Even better, they've done so without simply repeating the tricks that made their albums such a thrill in the '90s. Instead, they've successfully applied the considerable cinematic power of their live show to a purely audio experience—the entire record is not songs so much as colours, textures and resonant tremors. It's their craziest trip of a disc since the 4-CD experiment Zaireeka, and one that you'll find yourself listening to a lot more—and a lot more easily, too.

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