Friday, April 26, 2013

The Dark Side of the Moon -- The Flaming Lips -- Review

The Dark Side of the Moon (2009)
Rating: 8
"Breathe / Breathe in the air"
Best Song: On the Run??
Worst Song: Money

       After Embryonic, the Lips went...more or less insane, releasing loads and loads of EPs, collaborations, surreal YouTube videos, and other such bizarre creations, all continuing in the spacey noise-rock style of that album. The first of these releases was none other than this, a cover of the band's collective favorite album, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. At first glance, this seems like a good idea -- heck, didn't I even compare Embryonic to Dark Side in that review? -- but the execution leaves quite a lot to be desired.
       Of course, if you think about it, it kinda makes sense. The very thread that I was using to connect DSotM and Embryonic was that they both kept an incredibly well-threaded mood hanging over the album throughout its entire running time, providing the listener with an experience (and in some cases, an emotion) that they could only return to if they listened to that very album. And this reason is exactly why the band's cover of Dark Side fails -- most of Dark Side's real pleasures come from the experience, not the songwriting. 
       These aren't Beatles songs; these are glorified ambient pieces, ones that exist to take up space in your mind and travel you to far off places (the same holds true for Embryonic). That's not to say that the songwriting on DSotM was poor -- far from it -- but the thing that pushed the album over the edge into perfection was indeed the sound effects, the mood, the atmosphere, and other attributes along those lines. 
       One other main positive about the original Dark Side (heck, probably the biggest positive for me personally) was the sound, that being glorious jazzy-space-gospel-funk. This goes for Embryonic too! The mysterious, oft-frightening, abrasive, spacey (I'm using that word a lot...) tone of the sound in that album was one of its greatest attributes.
       I say all that to say this -- both albums are fantastic. However, a cover of one album in the style of the other album simply does not work. They couldn't effectively cover Dark Side in the style of Embryonic, and I'm pretty sure that even the mighty Floyd would have a hard time covering Embryonic in the style of Dark Side. Okay, sure, there was a way to make it work, I'll give 'em that, but they most certainly didn't do that. 
       And even though the melodies and whatnot aren't the strongest point of the Floyd album, this tribute would have been more than decent if the band had just done a straight re-do. Sadly, that's not what they did -- "Money" is turned into a glorified 8-bit video game soundtrack full of stupid bleeps, bloops, and vocoders, the intro to "Time" is changed from a glorious, awe-inspiring 2001 freak-out to a dated, cheesy industrial guitar solo (not to mention the sung parts are completely dull here), and "Brain Damage" is essentially stripped of all its anthemic power. Sure, the chorus has some neat synth effects, and the melody's as good as ever, but it just leaves me with a feeling of "meh" instead of "WOW", like the original did.
       "On the Run" and "Any Colour You Like" are decent, sorta reminding one of those minor tracks from Yoshimi like "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 2", but even so they still don't even come close to the band's best work. "Breathe" is transformed into a thumping rocker reminiscent of "The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine", but it just...does nothing for me, and I'm not quite sure why. I just don't think the melody was designed to go into a song like this, and the arrangement leaves a bit to be desired.
       So it's not bad, but it just comes off as completely unnecessary. There's no real reason for the album to exist -- if you like the Floyd album, JUST LISTEN TO THE FLOYD ALBUM. If you're in love with Embryonic, then try it, I guess, but I'm in love with Embryonic, and this still doesn't do much of anything for me. It's funny, the band went back and did a remake of one of the greatest albums ever, and in doing so created their worst album in 20 years. Yikes. 

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