Skip to main content
A Magazine for

The Manchester edition of Now Then is no longer publishing content. Visit the Sheffield edition.

The Flaming Lips American Head

There are few bands that weave plaintive tapestries in such vividly optimistic hues as The Flaming Lips. Even when contemplating death and the precarious existence of mankind, you would never be surprised by confetti cannons and an ever-endearing grin upon frontman Wayne Coyne’s face.

Released: 11 September 2020
American Head

American Head, however, marks a shift in identity for Oklahoma’s zaniest raconteurs. By their own admission, it’s the first time in their illustrious career in which they have considered what it means to be American, and the focus has once again shifted, this time from the conceptual theatre of King’s Mouth, to fragile insights into Coyne’s experiences growing up in the early seventies.

‘Watching The Lightbugs Glow’ and ‘Dinosaurs On The Mountain’ are delicate snapshots of childhood imagination, while later cuts offer impactful stories of a narcotic-fuelled youth. From the outset, Coyne wanted to express his memory of feelings, and this translates into a kaleidoscope of nostalgic atmosphere, overflowing with weird, wonderful and, occasionally, heartbreaking imagery.

Sonically, the allusions to Americana are subtle and embellished with the kind of playful romanticism that has become their modus operandi. There’s a wistfully cinematic blanket across the whole album, and Coyne’s dreamy falsetto washes over some of their most emotionally compelling material in years.

The result is an intimate and introspective album with less euphoric highs and more longing spans of reminiscence, yet the strength lies in its heartfelt message of optimism. The Flaming Lips prove once again that a lucid imagination is a consoling antidote to melancholy.

Filed under: