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Soft Bulletin, the

4.4 out of 5 stars 322 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 22 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Bros
  • ASIN: B00000JC6C
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 322 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,247 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Race For The Prize (Remix)
2. A Spoonful Weighs A Ton
3. The Spark That Bled
4. The Spiderbite Song
5. Buggin' (Remix)
6. What Is The Light?
7. The Observer
8. Waitin' For A Superman
9. Suddenly Everything Has Changed
10. The Gash
11. Feeling Yourself Disintegrate
12. Sleeping On The Roof
13. Race For The Prize
14. Waitin' For A Superman (Remix)

Product Description

Product Description

The Soft Bulletin is the most accessible album that psychedelic-noise-pop stalwarts The Flaming Lips have ever released. The album is different and new, courageous and accomplished, as unique as ever and yet more listenable than ever. Rhythmic, piano-laden, exploding with intelligence and sonic texture, The Soft Bulletin, the band's ninth album, continues the trio's adventure into other-worldly pop.


The Flaming Lips' particular and peculiar genius comes to full fruition on the stupendous The Soft Bulletin. Anyone who had the gumption to actually listen to Zaireeka, a song cycle that could only be heard by playing four CDs at the exact same time on different stereos, knows that head Lip Wayne Coyne and his Oklahoma City brethren had it in them. That album, along with the Lips' Parking Lot Experiments, offered proof that Coyne wasn't playing by the same rules as everyone else. He was growing up and away from the splenetic psychedelic freak-outs of earlier albums and emerging as a first-rate composer--perhaps the first alt-rock star to earn such status.

The Soft Bulletin is absolutely colossal, a testament to their position as the vanguard of a movement that includes Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs, and Olivia Tremor Control's Black Foliage. As with those albums, Bulletin shares a love of cosmic, vaguely psychedelic pop and a closet full of pet sounds. But the Flaming Lips only uses these as a launch pad for rocketing into ethereal sonic space. Although Bulletin steps back from Zaireeka's over-the-top indulgence, it manages to be symphonic, bombastic, outrageous, and damned catchy--while still oozing the band's unique weirdness. The sound is massive and complex; gongs, harps, grand piano, bells, pipe organ, strings, oboes, choral harmonies, and, strangely, very, very little guitar squall all merge into one wall--no, wall of sound doesn't do it justice. It's a cliff of sound, propelled by drummer Steven Drozd's tremendous pounding. On top of it all, Coyne's sweet but ravaged voice yields tender lyrics that tag a catalog of Lips stalwarts, such as insects, spirituality, and superheroes. One imagines Coyne in front of a full orchestra, urging them to keep up as he sings, "Ooh, those bugs / buzzing 'round..." on "Buggin." But the Lips orchestrated the entire album in their studio, sometimes manipulating more than 200 separate tracks to achieve Bulletin's vast symphonic excess. Each song is a rare gem. "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton" sounds like a collusion of Bach and Tricky. "The Spark That Bled" infuses a fey, Belle and Sebastian-esque ditty with Led Zeppelin-like funky swagger. "The Spiderbite Song" is a shotgun wedding between a tender piano ballad and the industrial noise of things falling apart. "The Gash" is just too singular to adequately describe.

It'll be interesting to hear what the Lips do next. If The Soft Bulletin is any indication at all, they can do anything they please. And we can't possibly imagine what it will sound like. --Tod Nelson

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on March 27 2007
Format: Audio CD
With every truly good rock band, they hit their peak in a stunning, magnificent album that leaves people breathless. For the Flaming Lips, that album is "The Soft Bulletin," their 1999 opus -- a trippy, epic, ingeniously strange collection compiled of only good songs. It's not musical perfection, but close to it.

It opens with a glorious Mellotron wave, which is deliberately just a little off, at the start of "Race For The Prize (Sacrifice Of The New Scientists)." "Two scientists were racing/For the good of all mankind/Both of them side by side/So determined," Wayne Coyne croons. With, of course, offbeat echoes and electronic wavers and whispers layered over the indierock melody.

Without sounding overpolished, the songs that follow seem very carefully structured and polished; not a single note is out of place. Coyne sings above smooth, flowing pop songs with a catchy edge. And what songs he sings -- about supermen, debilitating spider bites, buzzin' bugs, scientists trying to cure terminal diseases, and wounded mathematicians.

"Soft Bulletin" also touches on some more uplifting topics -- "What Is The Light" is a purely enchanting variation on the typical love song: "What is the light/That you have/Shining all around you?" And "A Spoonful Weighs A Ton" is a soaring number about how "they" saved the world with the power of love. "And though they were sad/They rescued everyone/They lifted up the sun..."

Not that "uplifting" means cheesy or sappy. The Flaming Lips seem to be completely in earnest. What's more, they add a space-acid flavor to their music which keeps it from ever getting too... well, ordinary. The best description I can come up with is: it's like a big inspirational show on another planet, complete with a celestial pop orchestra. There.
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Format: Audio CD
The Flaming Lips have made an interesting career of changing it up on each album. If you listened to "Clouds Taste Metallic" (their album before this one) than listen to "Yoshimi" (their album after this one) you wouldn't know it was the same band. "The Soft Bulletin" isn't their most ambitious work (that would be Zaireeka) and it's not the most drastic change from their original works (that would be Yoshimi), but it was simply the next step that connects the growth of the band from "Clouds" to "Yoshimi."
So why is it their best? It's not the most ambitious, the most different, the most rocking or anything like that. Instead each track is a treasure in it's own way. The songs aren't very tied together but instead present a different sound with every new endeavor. From the happy go lucky love on "Buggin'" to the almost, dare I say, dance feel you get from the drums on "What is the Light." "Suddenly Everything Has Changed" presents a transformation of fast to slow over and over again. Even the two "remixes" present quite different sounds from the "unremixed" versions of the same songs. Rather than being "remixed" it seems to me the Lips just couldn't decide which version was better and decided to present them both. Each track is incredible in its own way. And while you could argue "Yoshimi" is a better album based on how the fact that each Lips album seems to be better than the next, "The Soft Bulletin" presents the Lips in a way that is familiar to all of their other works but still very different, and comes out, at least to me, as their best work to date.
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Format: Audio CD
or that's what one would gather from listening to this album. Really, Coyne can be a truly outstanding and remarkable frontman or he can be absolutely awful as shown in the Soft Bulletin. Now the Lips have some great works, such as Yoshimi and Transmissions From The Satellite Heart but this isn't one of them. All of the indie kids seem to love this album though, but from what I gather they just jumped on the Flaming Lips bandwagon a little too late and ended up loving the next album they made which happened to be this. Coyne essentially tears away all of the grinding, loud guitars from the earlier albums and all that is left is adult alternative, contemporary music that people in their fifties will love, merely for the fact that the music sounds pleasant enough. Coyne's never really had all that great of a voice to begin with but he's at his worst here. He's damn near unbearable in A Spoonful Weigh's A Ton. The whole album just sounds hollow, and the production values aren't anything to revel at, which is remarkable considering the Lips were aiming for a bombastic sound. There is some good stuff on here though including Buggin', Suddenly Everything Has Changed, and The Spiderbite Song. I'm really quite frustrated from the acclaim that this album gets when in reality their earlier albums are much more worty of it...
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Format: Audio CD
The Soft Bulletin is certainly one of the Flaming Lips best works. The soundscape on this album is incredibly vibrant, and detailed. It's clear that they know their way around a recording studio, but they never force recording tricks. They show a lot of restraint, every orchestra swell, or drum flourish flows and feels like it should be there.
Conceptually the album is tight. They take on some real issues here. Stuff that anyone can relate to, the songs are about human nature, death, love, and eternal struggle. The album kicks off with "Race for the Prize", an upbeat number about two scientists making the ultimate sacrifice to come up with The Cure. It's slightly silly, and playful on the surface, but its ultimately about 2 guys willing to die to save some lives. There's many songs that dwell on this subject. The second song "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton" alternates between an extremely sweet orchestra section, and a deep funky bass section. "The Gash"(my personal favorite) is a real freak out, with incredibly layered vocals of all different pitches singing again about the eternal struggle that scientists have, and how you have to march on no matter what, all over an offbeat piano riff, with an orchestra and electronic whirring. This song represents the band the best, it is silly and incredibly eccentric but still charming and meaningful.
Other songs go into more about mortality such as "Suddenly Everything has Changed" about how during everyday events your mind drifts to morbid thoughts or on "Waitin' for a Superman" where singer and chief songwriter Wayne Coyne deals with the burden of his father's death.
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