Does a new Flaming Lips album still fill you with excitement?
Simone: I love the Flips live, I love looking around and seeing the faces of people thinking that they are at the best kids party they’ve ever been at. But they’ve been a bit poor for a while on record, if we’re honest.
Caitlin: Honestly, no. The thought of it kinda filled me with dread a little. Is that bad? I mean, this is the fifteenth album, it could have gone either way. And yes, on record, they’ve been… mediocre.
Simone: You could argue that this is Flips by numbers – with the whole kids fairy tale thing. But it’s also the best thing they’ve done in ages. We could probably say it’s a ‘return to form’?
So what has made the last few albums mediocre do you think? And what’s different about this?
Simone: There’s just a level of batshit crazy that you can take before you’re a bit like, ‘Okay, I get it Wayne, you’re kooky.’ Also, and let’s be brutally honest; he can’t really sing – and knowing where that works or not hasn’t really been their forte. It works here because the slightly off-key crooning is when his vocals sound good.
Caitlin: Flips have always been on the right side of wavey surfer rock to me. But the last few albums felt too forced, like they were trying to push ALL THE BOUNDARIES AT ONCE instead of just… making something. This feels like the right side of psychedelia.
Simone: It’s basically pop with a psyche twist. And it’s helped by Mick Jones’s narration. It’s so droll, it makes Coyne sounds just the right side of fairytale.
I was going to ask about Mick Jones. Does the narration add something?
Simone: Without the narration, this wouldn’t work.
Caitlin: I love it, it really adds to the ridiculous kid’s story narrative. Instead of it just being this hunk of warbly psyche pop, the narration gives it a backbone.
And was Jones the perfect choice?
Simone: It’s either him or Phil Daniels, isn’t it? I’d like to hear Kylie do it though.
Caitlin: Or Stephen Fry.
Simone: They should get loads of different versions with different narrators. But Mick Jones did a great job. Isn’t it weird though that you don’t question that they got a member of the Clash to narrate a kids story on their record?
Caitlin: He sounds like the baddie in an animated kid’s film. I feel like only Flaming Lips could have made this album. It’s not like anything we’ll ever hear from any other artist again.
What songs stand out?
Caitlin: ‘Electric Fire’ got me all kinds of excited. It’s like falling into a real bad trip and finally emerging out the other side and realising you cooked yourself a pizza. I enjoyed it.
Simone: ‘How Many Times’ is pretty glorious, right? And then the orchestras on ‘Funeral Parade’ – there’s something pure Disney going on there. But if Disney had been done by Tim Burton.
The album’s part of a wider project which is very Flaming Lips. Would you read the book now? Visit the installation?
Simone: I was actually really sad that I’d not seen the art installation.
Caitlin: Honestly all I want to do is take a chonging great pill and fall headfirst into it.
Simone: I wonder if it’d have made the record evoke something else? Because when I’m listening to ‘How Can A Head’ – and okay, it’s no ‘Do You Realize??’ – but it’s in that same vein – it sounds so, so joyful. What if the artwork for it is as dark as dark can be? Like when you see a film and it’s not as you saw it when you read it… but with a record.
Caitlin: I also sort of wonder though, why does it come as part of this package? Did it not do enough on its own to stand by itself? Or is it trying to represent different facets of this King’s Mouth?
Finally, what did you learn from this album?
Simone: That I really really want someone to throw glitter over me whilst riding a unicorn again. That’s the thing, I actually want to see this one live.
Caitlin: There really aren’t any limits to the expanse of drug-fuelled space that is Wayne’s brain. I would definitely love to see this on a festival stage. It would be so immense on a good sound system, in the right environment.
Simone: Flaming Lips live shows are great big children’s parties. Makes sense to create a record that is posing as a kids story.
Caitlin: It’s not really one to digest every bit of, rather just enjoy it as a whole while being covered in pizza, acid and glitter. Riding a unicorn.