This album has been kicking around for ages so it feels weird to be writing about it, but it’s finally available on CD for the general public and not just the broke people like me who attended Record Store Day last April (you really should go next year). Hence I’m sat here trying to decide what I think about it. The issue is that I’m not a Pink Floyd fan. I’m a good few years too young to really have known about them, and when I did, remembered that I don’t like psychedelic rock. So why on earth, you’re asking yourself, should I be reviewing it? I just am ok? Deal with it.
I might not know anything about Pink Floyd, or even really like them to be fair, but I do like Flaming Lips. Something about their fun euphoric stuff appeals to me. Their last album, Embryonic, is just brilliant. It has the right amount of invention and creativity without alienating, well, me. But this makes the very notion of releasing Dark Side of the Moon unfathomable. I don’t understand it at all. I know that the Lips have always been thought to be an unconventional band, but why would they take an album that was made almost 40 years ago, is revered by many, has been covered before and probably more interestingly (hello Easy Star Allstars – oh, and stop it now please) and send it out into the world? Are they going to begin a trend of bands pointlessly covering hugely famous albums?
But this just comes back to me, sat here, listening. Trying to work out what I think about it. The album opens with a heartbeat, and someone telling me they’ve always been mad. It’s clear from the get-go that this is a lofty exercise in some universal themes of life, death and insanity. Yup folks, this is not Christina Aguilera discussing how she likes sex for breakfast, this is much more serious. Not that there aren’t similarities of course; Peaches for instance. Whether you believe it or not, she appears on both albums. Honest. I got excited about Peaches being on the album. I really like Peaches. As of track 5 though (Money, if you’re interested) I can’t tell her from anyone else on the album. All I can think about so far is the plodding beat, dominant throughout the album that is putting me to sleep.
Must. Wake. Up.
Oh goodness, I’ve got to five paragraphs, having to force my way out of a psychedelia-induced coma, and yet I’ve said very little about what the album actually sounds like. It feels like a spacey, electronic opera. The ethereal high pitch singing mixed with dreamy keyboards and sound effects conjure up images of astronauts, floating, and endless, endless, endless space on many of the tracks. But then, low and behold, every now and then, something interesting catches my attention. On the Run has a really funky bass line that makes me wonder how the original sounded, though the sound of laughter begins to grate pretty quickly on this album (as you will see below). But even this brief moment of enjoyment is interrupted by a horrible alarm sound and then the uncomfortable coughing beat of Time/Breathe begins and I’m reminded why I don’t really like the album. Each time I find something to pique my interest, it doesn’t take long before I change my mind. Perhaps the only song from the original album that I actually know, Money again, is basically just the original with a couple of added effects. The vocals sound a bit like a robot, as do a lot of the sounds, but with some weird dub-inspired beat beneath it. It just begs the question, like the whole album, of why bother? I get how it would be interesting live onstage, knowing that the Lips are quite the inventive stage presence, but the majority of the album just feels pointless.
In an effort to be a bit more positive, there is something about the last two tracks: Brain Damage is a weird but good musing on mental illness, although it could do without the unwelcome snippets of Henry Rollins laughing maniacally. But somehow the spacey sounds of the rest of the album come together to create something that works better than most of the other songs. Eclipse is more interesting than most of what has come before. The heavy use of cymbals in particular makes this my favourite track, though of course it is just a tiny little bit at the end. Then we’re back to the thumping rhythm of a heartbeat, and Rollins telling us in fact that the WHOLE moon is dark.
Wowza, I feel enlightened.