Top 25 Albums #24. The Soft Bulletin - The Flaming Lips
Here's a funny conceit for an album: songs about bugs, bug bites, scratches, gashes, and bleeding as ruminations on mortality, love, humanity, and possibly heroin. Somehow, these aging Oklahoman psych-rockers were able to pull it off... with aplomb. The uniquely gorgeous production doesn't hurt; overdriven drums sound large and raw while strings and horns add almost regal lushness. On songs like "The Spark That Bled", a sad-sounding drum machine gives way to the joyous fury of a real kit while an introspective guitar bursts into pop ecstasy. That pop edge really makes this album special. Any gaggle of hipsters can go off on relatively fruitless experiments, but it takes a mastery of the form to make music like this.