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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: #15,538 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
Though I'm a big fan of edgy, "experimental" modern rock, I've never really listened to the Flaming Lips before this CD. I'm going to do all I can to find out more about them after listening to The Soft Bulletin, though. This is one of the few CDs that I knew would be a long-time favorite the first time I listened to it (on the way home from the store). The last time that happened was with OK Computer, still a favorite though, admittedly, not very old yet. I don't know what the 1-star review was getting at with the Brian Wilson comments. Though I listen to Pet Sounds A LOT, I really didn't draw any similarities to that great work upon listening to The Soft Bulletin aside from the detailed, layered feeling. Maybe this CD was influenced by Pet Sounds, but only to the same extent that basically all of rock has felt the effects of that record. A song does not need a hook or pop potential to be great. Though there are not any immediately infectious pop grooves on this CD, there are plenty of passages that stick in my mind. This CD is a subtle, involving work that deserves great praise. This is one of the few instances where the hype is justified. Who cares what the Vatican says about Pet Sounds, this, or any other CD? As an aside, w/r/t the OK Computer reference I watched "Meeting People is Easy" last night which highlighed Radiohead's difficulty with the praise they were getting. The media blows things out of proportion, but when something as deserving as OK Computer or The Soft Parade comes along, the artist must simply accept the thanks without letting it change her perception of herself too drastically. I wish The Flaming Lips the best of luck... congratulations on your achievement and keep up the great work.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a brilliant work of art, the best rock album that I've heard in ten years since My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless" (although musically it's nothing like that groundbreaker). The Soft Bulletin is melodic, the arrangements are complex, and yet it retains a sincere sense of innocence. To me, it seems overall to be a concept album about dealing with the defeat of idealism, the struggle to retain one's humanity in the face of our chaotic technological world, and a battle against the all-too-easy retreat into irony. The beautiful fragility of Wayne Coyne's voice says it all, and is a perfect foil for the elaborate orchestrations. The lyrics are deceptively simple, and yield many revelations after repeated listenings; for instance, the lyrics to the second track seem to be simultaneously about the Manhattan Project and the peace movement, the verbal equivalent to a Gestalt illusion!
(And I recognize the photo on the cover of the CD--it's a picture from LIFE magazine from the 1960s of a teenager on LSD dancing with his shadow).
I love this album, and listen to it every day.
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Format: Audio CD
Something you MUST try when the opportunity affords itself:
I'm sitting in my house, with a HORRENDOUS thunderstorm raging outside. The windows of my balcony are all open, allowing the sounds of the pouring rain, thunder and lightning to all add to the aesthetics of this cd. I'd like to think this cd isn't quite right without it!!
Anyway, on to my review...
After 200 some odd reviews, I don't expect to add much to what has already been said. But I will attempt to nonetheless.
This cd is gorgeous. It is Radiohead meets the beautiful poppiness of (dare I say?...) The Stone Roses, with the psychedilia of Pink Floyd, with a bit and dash of The Young Fresh Fellows and The Replacements.
Take that and combine it with the grand majesty and forlorn-ness of Ride or Slowdive--bands forgotten in the current heyday of Coldplay (gee, where'd they--Coldplay--get the idea?).
Finally, add to that a string section which sounds straight out of the London Symphony. Also, at times, there are such quirky sounds coming from the speakers, that you would swear Stereolab took over the controls.
Again, it's beautiful. Should you make the purchase, you will not be disappointed and will swiftly realize that it is highly worth all the praise which has preceded this humble review.
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