Now that The Flaming Lips have spent more than a quarter of a century carving out a distinct sonic identity, their legacy is pretty much secure. So covering Pink Floyd’s defining 1973 album in its entirety now—especially since last year’s Embryonic was the gnarliest Lips album since before 1999’s cult-solidifying The Soft Bulletin—is a more daring idea than it would have been earlier, when it might have looked a little too easy. In the ’90s, the group’s cushioned sound would have fit more comfortably with The Dark Side Of The Moon than the scrappier current unit’s does.
But daring doesn’t equal successful. Some of the issues with this Dark Side cover are due to the Lips’ co-conspirators. Henry Rollins, in a nod to his spoken-word stardom, recreates the spoken snippets of the original. It’s clever on paper, but Pink Floyd’s album worked thanks to the group’s off-the-cuff humanity, whereas Hammerin’ Hank just reads lines. Electroclash icon Peaches, whose strong suit isn’t her singing, wails like a cat trapped in a closet on “The Great Gig In The Sky.” But the Lips don’t find a groove comparable to the original album’s until they’re two-thirds finished. The spooked take on “Us And Them” (which sticks close to Floyd’s arrangement), a splashy, funk-inflected, guitar-heavy “Any Colour You Like” (which doesn’t), and a menacing version of “Brain Damage” done by the Lips’ fellow Oklahomans Stardeath And White Dwarfs (led by Dennis Coyne, nephew of lead Lip Wayne Coyne) have more confidence than anything else here.