fri 20/09/2019

CD: The Flaming Lips – King’s Mouth | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Flaming Lips – King’s Mouth

CD: The Flaming Lips – King’s Mouth

An audacious and charming conceptual fantasy album

Forever weird: The Flaming Lips stick to their psychedelic guns

Oh to be inside the head of Wayne Coyne. The frazzle-haired frontman has always been an enigma, persistently quirky, morally dubious, and undeniably fascinating. Perhaps King’s Mouth offers our best chance yet to get in there – the album is an accompaniment to his art installation in which visitors enter a giant metallic head. Rather on the nose for a metaphor, but still a hell of an invitation.

King’s Mouth is as conceptual as an album gets: a fairytale about a giant baby that becomes king, sacrifices himself for the city, and becomes a monument. Full marks for imagination, the medieval fantasies of King Crimson colliding with the interstellar scope of David Bowie. There’s even narration from The Clash’s own Mick Jones, though he evokes less Richard Burton in War of the Worlds and more Nigel Tufnell at Stonehenge.

The structure of the album makes for an interesting journey, told with great humour. “Giant Baby” ponders the difficulty of finding giant toys, while “Electric Fire” details the entire universe falling into the king’s head. Sometimes the quirk is laid on too thick – why exactly would you suck on your cat? – but it’s par for the course for a band whose live show includes pink inflatable robots and crowd-zorbing.

King’s Mouth demands your attention. The songs serve the story, not themselves. The first listen needs a good soundsystem, 45 spare minutes, and perhaps access to the psychedelic plane. Anything less and it risks drifting by as a collection of pleasant and jarring sounds. There are no attention-grabbing singles here, it’s very much a soundtrack.

The Flaming Lips’ trademark production is still intact, acoustic guitars punctuated by distorting drums, and melodic harmonies flying in from tight angles. It has served them well, and certainly suits Coyne’s fragile voice, but the instrumental numbers are what really intrigues: the orchestral and electronic soup of “Mother Universe, and the warring mellotron choirs of “Funeral Parade”.

King’s Mouth is a curious but charming release. It’s ostentatious for sure, but who could write an epic audio fantasy and make it humble? It’s unlikely to win over any Flaming Lips doubters, but at this stage of their career, it’s doubtful they care. For the loyalists and the curious, it may just take you on an adventure.


The first listen needs a good soundsystem, 45 spare minutes, and perhaps access to the psychedelic plane


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.