Originally released only on limited edition vinyl (which sold out immediately) for Record Store Day, the Flaming Lips compiled and assembled 13 tracks of collaborations with everyone from Ke$ha to Yoko Ono. An initial review of the roll-call on this record might prompt the adage “from the sublime to the ridiculous” but, I’m saddened to report it’s more of a case of “from the ridiculous to the ridiculously annoying”.
To bastardize another maxim, you know that one about too many cooks and broth spoiling? Well, Wayne Coyne has, for all intents and purposes, assembled everyone from Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, and Nigella Lawson, to every little precocious 10 year old contestant in Junior Masterchef and the ghost of Julia Child to concoct this heady brew. Then, seemingly emptied everything from his larder and his guests’ fridges into a big huge melting pot. While individual talents and ingredients may, to varying degrees, be gorgeous tasty morsels; combined here in Coyne’s kooky-cook food processor … I think I have made my point.
When one of the more accessible tracks on a record is by Yoko Ono, you really do need to be asking yourself some questions (Do It! is actually, the best track on the record). Frankly this record does little more beyond being a novelty and, dare I say it, a disappointing vanity project by Coyne.
The atrocity begins when Coyne smashes Ke$ha and Biz Markie together for the already past-use-by-dated 2012(You Must Be Upgraded); Ashes in the Air is actually fairly palatable, featuring Bon Iver, but it feels directionless and seems to go one for forever; in fact it segues into another drifting forever-of-a-song, the troublesomely titled Helping The Retarded To Know God.
I am guessing Coyne’s attempting to be frivolous and wacky with this record; but he’s just become that really annoying guy at a party who keeps repeating the same annoying visual gag in ever increasingly stupid variations. Dude even fucks up Nick Caves voice with retarded amounts of effects in the annoyingly titled You, Man? Human???
Seemingly, one would be hard pushed to argue that Coyne has assembled these “Fwends” out of respect for the artists after the fracas caused by Coyne releasing an unapproved edit of a music video featuring Erikah Badu and her resulting rant
(see Pitchfork) – one has to ask, if this is anything but musical masturbation; and if Coyne really needs to share his long, firm, sensual strokes of his ego with the rest of us. – review by Andrew Tidball