THE FLAMING LIPS – Clouds Taste Metallic (1995)

Review by: Victor Guimarães
Album assigned by: Syd Spence

“So, it was a warm spring evening when I arrived at Oklahoma City to see its most famous band: The Flaming Lips. And in this hometown-comeback concert, they’re playing Clouds Taste Metallic in full! Wow, can’t wait for that!”

Gods, I surely wanted to have said that sentence just above. And to have lived it as well – you know what they say about the amazing experience that is a Lips concert? Something like 50 bands to see before you (or they) die. But, unfortunately, all that I got was the pleasure of restraining myself to online streaming players. Damn! 

Ok, everyone knows the band, right? Americans, heavily inspired by psychedelic culture and known for their sound experimentations from the 80s to this day. Cool, huh? Clouds Taste Metallic is their seventh album, the last to feature guitarist Ronald Jones, and the last guitar-oriented, traditional rock based album. So, expect lots of good rock songs, all of them as short as 4 minutes, and all sporting great spirit. Expect well-thought melodies, those whose drum tempos, bass lines, guitar solos were precisely orchestrated to fit in together with the smart free-verse singing and bring specific emotions to the listener. Now, add the spaced, poetic, metaphorical lyrics and you’ve got the recipe for a great album.

Well, no one is expected to be spared from criticism, right? I could say the songs are too short, that they could’ve been done in a better, most complex way. Or that the lyrics are, in its majority, too metaphorical, too indirect, in such a way that a full comprehension will require some mindwork from the average listener. No, it’d all be wimpy criticism. One could also say the album is too simple. Come on! They are the ‘good simple’, with discrete touches of geniality all over the album. For me, those small, discontinuous, but ever-present displays of great ideas is exactly what (and one of the many ways that) distinguishes a great composition from a good one. But even with all that praise, I still got the feeling that there was something amiss in Clouds Taste Metallic. As I write those final lines of this review, after listening to the album a couple of times, I still hadn’t figured out what I think they missed. 

At last, don’t fool yourself with doubts or second thoughts: great album from a great band. What more could I say? I wished I’d seen ‘em live!
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Author: tomymostalas

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