You would be forgiven for assuming that the Flaming Lips would be a great video band. Years of semipsychedelic records punctuated by bizarrely vivid lyrics and swooning noise have garnered the group a reputation for being cracked musical savants. And anyone who can write a song about a Japanese girl whooping ass on pink robots … well, they've surely got a decent storyboard or two in 'em, right?
The 18 clips compiled on VOID are evidence that ideas are finite and that Wayne Coyne and the Lips used up most of theirs when making records, cobbling together ill-formed scraps when it came time to shoot videos.
Sadly, what watching these videos from "Talkin' 'Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues" through the brand-new "Mr. Ambulance Driver" makes crystal clear is that this is a band that has changed drastically over the years, becoming ever more navel-worshipful as time has passed. Early clips like those for "Frogs" are the best ones, as they're so visually noisy as to be epilepsy-inducing; they're fun and weird and sort of rambunctious and tend to include various aspects of Coyne's personal hygiene.
By the time we get to self-indulgent efforts like those for "Fight Test" and the trying-to-be-lighthearted "SpongeBob and Patrick Confront the Psychic Wall of Energy," the "band" has become all about Coyne earnestly singing his quirky lyrics directly to the camera, while a faintly predictable barrage of just-weird-enough images flutter by. (An elephant falling down in Las Vegas is definitely not an inspired moment.) But in the same way that the Flaming
Lips' music has become more emptily excessive, so have their videos, a fact that becomes
blindingly apparent watching this collection.
The Flaming Lips
VOID (Video Overview in Deceleration)
(Warner Bros. DVD)