[17] The Flaming Lips, ‘Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)’


Junior’s yawning now. Come on, this is The Flaming Lips getting back to what they do best – breaking all the dials on the decibel meter and tripping out with love for everyone in the room. And that synth whistle moves sweetly through the changes. Come on. “I like the way he keeps in time with the music,” concedes Junior. “How do they remember the words?” Well, I’m not sure Wayne Coyne picks from a very large cache.

Junior 2 gives it the thumbs up. ‘Peace Sword’ is a bright spot in a year when the Lips have layered on the doom, checking out the human psyche and not liking what they find in the brilliant The Terror and, um, pretending to split up on Twitter. It’s a far cry from larking about in a giant beach ball. Actually, it’s not that far, is it?

I keep singing Paul McCartney’s ‘Let Me Roll It’ to this.

Anyway, the panel’s getting restless. Time for some pop.

[1] The Flaming Lips, ‘Race For The Prize’

The Flaming Lips

Oh yeah, there was one insanely thrilling song left.

It teeters on the edge of total musical breakdown, seems to have Animal from The Muppets on drums, comes on like unfiltered aural joy and sounds as heroic as its lyric – ladies and gentlemen, it’s the best single of 1999.

Wayne Coyne sings with the usual high-note-grasping wide-eyed wonder, but this time he really is awestruck. He marvels at those gallant scientists racing each other to find the cure for his father’s cancer, the cure for all cancer. The head-spinning madness of the arrangement only makes it more touching. Am I over-selling it? Junior even laughed at the first few bars, so delirious are its delights.

On reflection, it’s a stupid record. But it doesn’t care.

[14] Mercury Rev, ‘Opus 40’

Mercury Rev

Deserter’s Songs topped most critical lists at the end of ’98, so people actually bought it in ’99. Inside they found a beguiling mix of Disneyesque arrangements, soaring melodies, traditional Americana and fingers-down-a-blackboard violin-mangling, all topped off with a sugary vocal from a man old enough to know better. At least half of it was great, and ‘Opus 40’ was the straight-up pop song.

I’ve lost the album, and my exclusively* autographed copy of the 7” inch single is in one of the crates I haven’t bothered to unpack yet, so I had to find the stupid, special lead to plug the mp3 player into the stereo. Was it worth it? Junior took advantage of her dad’s preoccupation to zoom around the living room pulling items out from under the coffee table and sticking her hand in the video. Almost disastrous, then. She gave the song a quick bouncing acknowledgement before taking another swing at fusing the electrics.

*Four of the fellows have signed it but there were PILES of copies knocking about in HMV, so maybe they’d had their moment in the sun. They must’ve spent a lonely session, watching the punters buying up the Flaming Lips album.