Features

Music Review: “With A Little Help From My Fwends”

Noah Kahan

Staff Writer

Generally speaking, the The Flaming Lips’ “With A Little Help From My Fwends” cover album is difficult ground for musicians to tread on. There are various factors that make it so, but the main one is that, generally bands who are covering well known and cherished material feel a need to either reinvent the album beyond recognition into something disrespectful, or to copy the sound of the album word for word and note for note. The news that The Flaming Lips were making a song for song cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was nerve wracking for these reasons. Happily though, “With A Little Help From My Fwends” by The Flaming Lips is a deeply weird tribute that pays respectful homage to The Beatles while completely reinventing the sound. “Sgt. Pepper’s” is still considered one of the greatest rock albums ever made, and that can be attributed to the album’s seamless transitions from song to song, the beautiful harmonies, and the equal parts trippy and harmonious music and lyrics. Right off the bat, “With A Little Help From My Fwends” does all of these things. By keeping the album as a song for song reinvention, The Flaming Lips immediately profit from the original album’s superb pacing and arrangement. This album differentiates itself from the common cover album via its music. “Sgt. Pepper’s” was an orchestral affair. The music and the melodies are entirely done with a large ensemble. Instead of emulating this, The Flaming Lips and their “Fwends” create a deeply electronic soundscape, drenched in synths, autotune, with the only overlapping instrument being the guitar. What this means is that none of the album sounds anything like the original, simply based on the instruments used. To many Beatles fans, this will be dismaying. However, as a creative venture, it was a necessity because it means that in “With A Little Help From My Fwends”, The Flaming Lips never get stuck in a creative rut. Rather, the music and lyrics already existing allow them to do something totally unique. As a huge fan of the Beatles, I recommend this deeply bizarre tribute because the album shows that there is an even greater level of creative brilliance to the work than even the Beatles knew.

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