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The Flaming Lips

Fight Test EP

Release Date: 04.22.03
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


Stand Up and Be a Man
by: bill aicher

2002 was an eventful year for The Flaming Lips. Not only did they release Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (an album hailed by many critics as one of the year's best), but they also took part in Beck's Sea Change tour as both the opening band as well as Becks' backing band. As such, it's a bit surprising that they've found the time to release a full-fledged EP, much less one as enjoyable as Fight Test.

Like most any EP, the disc opens up with the title track. Taken from Yoshimi, chances are most anyone who'll be picking up Fight Test already has the song. Nevertheless, showcasing the song is far from hurtful, as it's one of the Lips's best songs to date.

The real reasons for picking up the EP, however, are what come next. Rather than including a variety of new studio tracks, The Flaming Lips opted instead to venture into cover territory - a move which serves two purposes. One, they're damn good covers; and two, they're an excellent display of just where the Flaming Lips feel they fit into today's musical scene. Sure, it might seem a bit out of place for a band as "weird" as The Flaming Lips to include a cover of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head," but one listen and you'll realize that given the proper respect, it's a rather nice and (dare I say) heartbreaking piece.

The cover of "The Golden Age" from Beck's Sea Change is a close match to the original. And although one might prefer Beck's depressive tone over Wayne Coyne's "whinier" voice, what's most interesting here is hearing the band's take on the music - especially for those of us who failed to see them actually backing Beck's live show. Radiohead's "Knives Out" follows closely in the footsteps of "The Golden Age," with their rendition of the song sounding rightfully like the original, but with a bit of a difference in arrangement. There's nothing really all that impressive to it, and it's mostly a throwaway piece musically - except for the fact that any cover of a Radiohead song, especially by a band as close to them musically as The Flaming Lips, is always worth a listen.

Clocking in at just over 9 minutes, the Scott Hardkiss remix of "Do You Realize," is the album's biggest disappointment, however. Not only does it detract from the poignancy of the original, but it's a completely boring remix. One would have hoped for something a bit more exciting, especially given the original work.

The album's two new songs are perhaps the biggest attractions for the "real" Flaming Lips fans, and thankfully they're quite welcome additions to the Lips' already immense song catalog. "The Strange Design of Conscience" follows Yoshimi's sonic and philosophic themes quite closely and would have likely found an endearing home there, while "Thank You Jack White (For the Fiber-Optic Jesus That You Gave Me)" is the EP's only foray into the Flaming Lips' less-serious side. It's a jangly little country piece that's idiotically cute, and a perfect closer for an otherwise more serious disc. 08-Jun-2003 5:57 PM