The Flaming Lips

Hear It Is

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AllMusic Review by

Hearing Hear It Is years later, after all the band had done up to the new century, makes for an almost surreal experience. No swirling orchestral parts, no Beach Boys-on-Mars homages, even Wayne Coyne's immediately recognizable cracked fracture of a voice isn't present. Instead, it's raunchy bar-band-gone-insane fun or calmer but not too wracked ruminations from Coyne, with music to match. It isn't as completely discontinuous as might be thought, though -- Coyne's vision was already distinctly gone, in ways that most bands would kill for. The gentle acoustic strumming that starts the album on "With You" or the steady pace and mournful singing on "Godzilla Flick" shows that subtlety was as much a part of the game as stomping, fried electric guitar insanity. Throughout Hear It Is, there's a gleeful "try what works" approach that would only become stronger later -- the band may have been punk-inspired and birthed, but Coyne and company drew on everything from country & western to classic rock crunch and more; there are even some clear early goth rock touches. If anybody was kin at the time, it would be the Meat Puppets, with perhaps a little less interest in high lonesome sounds. Texas psych types like the 13th Floor Elevators and the Red Krayola were clear forebears -- one can easily imagine Roky Erickson coming up with shaggy dog stories and music for the likes of "Trains, Brains and Rain." The group's own uniqueness comes through, though. Consider the blunt imagery of "Jesus Shootin' Heroin" or the clearly humorous yells and climax of "Charlie Manson Blues" as two examples of many. Initial CD versions of the album included the self-titled EP, while later pressings only added an enthusiastic fuzz-take of Eddie Cochran-via-Blue Cheer's "Summertime Blues."

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