Embryonic - The Flaming Lips

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Little about Embryonic is clear-cut or straightforward -- these noisy, pensive, sometimes meandering songs take awhile to decipher and often feel like they're still in the process of becoming. These very qualities, however, make these songs some of the Flaming Lips most haunting and intriguing music in some time.
  2. Embryonic is an album full of little revolutions--a trippier, noisier, more experimental journey than the Flaming Lips have taken in forever. [Dec 2009, p.116]
  3. Embryonic gestates the Lips to a new phase, turning eerily inward to finally face the flipside of their frantic catharsis.
  4. The act should be credited for not hewing to the tried-and-true formula it pretty much invented with previous releases but many of the double-disc's 18 tracks feel like they are embryonic rather than fully formed.
  5. Embryonic is not as strange as "Zaireeka,'' the Lips' play-four-CDs-at-the-same-time experiment, but it's up there. On the other hand, Embryonic is completely absorbing. It grows on you in a way that the earlier records simply cannot do.
  6. Embryonic works so staggeringly well because it's so unafraid to place itself in the lineage of unapologetically over-the-top rock album.
  7. While Embryonic shares with Brew many of the spontaneous bursts of chaos that made that album such a jarring listen, you can rest assured that this beautiful mess was--thanks to Coyne and his admitted control issues--a very calculated affair.
  8. It's quite brilliant, the one thing we have come to expect from this band.
  9. What it really all boils down to is your tolerance for lengthy psyche records, which is what Embyonic undoubtedly is.
  10. Equal parts overwhelming and intoxicating, Embryonic is a trip worth taking.
  11. 86
    Surprise and relief are the words that best describe an initial reaction to Embryonic. [Fall 2009, p.90]
  12. At 18 tracks, though, Embryonic includes an awful lot of filler, much of it of the meandering-soundscape variety. That stuff isn't depressing--it's just boring.
  13. 80
    It's themes may be familiar, but its fine, dazzlingly outlandish music is fresh and utterly fearless. [Nov 2009, p.88]
  14. Although I gather there's a concept here, knowing what it is might ruin the gently wigged-out dystopianism the lyrics cozy up to. More important, it might undercut the otherwise irreducible pleasures of their exploding guitars, unworldly synths, and crazy drums.
  15. To write it off too early would be criminal, as Embryonic represents The Flaming Lips at their most awkward, most engaging, and most creative.
  16. Ten years after their last masterpiece, The Flaming Lips have finally produced another one.
  17. Embryonic is a true 21st century freak-out and it's only appropriate to end this decade with such an ambitious, intrepid undertaking.
  18. Along with this requisite silliness come beautiful melodies (See The Leaves), exploding rock-out sections (The Ego's Last Stand) and catchy, laid-back guitar melodies (Silver Trembling Hands).
  19. Embryonic is certainly not without charm, but its title gives the game away. Largely, it's the sound of a band seeking inspiration rather than finding it.
  20. It's a wonderfully weird parade of sonic delights: an arresting consummation of the Lips' two-and-a-half decade career.
  21. We can only hope that, as we enter the 2010s, Embryonic portends yet another new phase for the Flaming Lips--one that's equally as improbable and rewarding as the ones that have preceded it.
  22. Sporadically brilliant, occasionally tedious, and always challenging, it's proof that the Fearless Freaks are back.
  23. A certain amount of reassurance in the power of The Flaming Lips comes with each of the band's album releases, and this one is no different.
  24. Embryonic has a cloudy feel, full of hulking, malformed basslines, distorted drums, and melodies that circle without ever ascending. [Nov 2009, p.102]
  25. The Lips have always been able to subvert pie-eyed whimsy with a sense of homespun beauty, and there's plenty of that here too.
  26. Embryonic, then, sounds like an over-correction to that trend, pushing the Lips's sound back into more experimental territory.
  27. 70
    Embryonic finds these wild-eyed Okies sounding even more adventurous and less eager to please than at any time since 1997's four-CD experimental sonic goof, "Zaireeka."
  28. Embryonic presents a band discovering that the far edge of an idea is often more compelling than its core.
  29. This is accessible music pushed to the very edge of accessibility, far away from the safety of the band's song-oriented efforts "At War with the Mystics" and "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots."
  30. For all its flaws and failings, for all that you may never feel like listening to it again, it's hard not to be perversely glad Embryonic exists.
  31. What The Flaming Lips have accomplished with Embryonic is impossible to ignore: an ambitious double album in an age where the single is making a comeback, a collection of music that makes a 25-year-old band sound vital and new.
  32. 80
    Embryonic is certainly as exciting as anything produced by the psych rock underground this year. [Nov 2009, p.78]
  33. At 18 tracks and well over an hour running time, it is everything you have come to expect from The Flaming Lips. [Fall 2009, p.58]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 86 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 25
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 25
  3. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Dec 6, 2011
    Absolutely flawless. This album is a fu*king machine! Embryonic has a soul, extreme creativity and of course, a moody, yet familiar and heavenly Flaming Lips ambient. Oh well, we ARE talking about THE Lips, so, what else were we expecting... Another brutal win :P Full Review »
  2. Sep 3, 2011
    The Flaming Lips are my favorite band. I did not like this album at first, though. I said it was disappointing. I changed my mind later. Its different from every other Flaming Lips album. After Yoshimi The Flaming Lips seemed to have been going in a different direction with their music, starting with At War With The Mystics and continuing with Embryonic. Embryonic is very experimental, and very electronic. Songs like See The Leaves, Evil, and Powerless are some of my favorites. Also, its a much longer album than previous Flaming Lips albums. It is, however, nonetheless a very good album. Full Review »
  3. Jun 2, 2011
    In a word, It's brilliant. In several, It's simply in a world of it's own, easily on a par with Soft Bulletin or Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. I love it. Full Review »