Flaming Lips poorly modernize classic album

Flaming Lips poorly modernize classic album

By Helen Wheatley, St. Teresa's Academy

As the era of rock and roll quickly approached in the fifties and sixties, young people began to think of these new sounds as “music for us, not our parents.” The most influential band of the time was The Beatles, pushing boundaries as they spread a colossal wave of the gospel of love and electric guitar around the world.

The most pivotal album of their career is typically regarded as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Released in 1967, it is considered the best album of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine. Although many artists have covered the classic sounds of The Beatles, none have done it quite like American psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips in their 2014 release of With a Little Help from My Fwends.

The Flaming Lips’ album, which is a track by track cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, features many artists such as Miley Cyrus, Tegan and Sara, My Morning Jacket, and Phantogram. From start to finish, With a Little Help from My Fwends is mediocre at best. We can assume the album was supposed to sound extra psychedelic, but the sounds are so overly-electronic that it becomes hard to discern one layer of sound from the next. With drastic tempo changes and lack of substantial instruments, With a Little Help from My Fwends leaves the listener in a sort of electronic stupor.

The lyrics on the second track, “With a Little Help from My Friends,” that state, “I’ll try not to sing out of key,” are almost ironic because of the excessive amount of Autotune used throughout the verse. At times, like during “Getting Better,” one wonders if what you’re hearing is actually singing. The deep, electronic buzz is a far cry from the background vocals of the crooning Beatles on the original track. Many songs, like “When I’m Sixty Four” and “Good Morning Good Morning,” are nearly unrecognizable as originally Beatles songs.

A cover is supposed to be a different variation of an original song, but the covers on With a Little Help from My Fwends are more noise than music. Although many Beatles purists will be offended by this album, there are a few notable highlights. Miley Cyrus’ chilly vocals on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and the synth on “Within You Without You,” a nice tribute to an originally psychedelic song, make up for some lost ground on other tracks.

“A Day in the Life,” with Cyrus as well, is a nice finish to the album, balancing modern day sounds while staying true to the classic song. Had the entire album been done in the style of this last track, perhaps With a Little Help from My Fwends could have been saved. Instead, the rock and roll excitement felt around the world in the sixties was lost in this overdone tribute to the legendary Beatles.