‘Late Night Tales,’ compiled by The Flaming Lips

Melissa Sewell

Oh, Flaming Lips, how you fed my early teenage years with confused derision! I was never too sure why everything had to be mocked, but I was on board. How I loved that song that led me to try dying my hair with tangerines! That derision has now morphed into shame. What the hell was I doing listening to that crap?

All right, the Flaming Lips are OK. But they are musically pretty strange. So when extraterrestrial Wayne Coyne is given permission to make his own little mix CD, the result is a little like the end of the sensible world.

I’d forgotten for a short time that I hate compilations. I hate them, I detest them, I spit on them. The reason compilations do not ever work is lack of transition. All I want is order! Heaven help us, folk music is followed by guitar feedback! Aphex Twin is too close to Miles Davis! Why is Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” tucked between two of the most vomit-inducing tracks I’ve ever heard?

The must-have marketing ploy is a rare cover of the White Stripe’s “Seven Nation Army” that for years has been dangled like an acid tab over the heads of loyal Flaming Lips fans. Other than being impossibly complicated next to the two-instrument original, the song’s lyrics are maddening. This version is affectionately referred to as “Harry Potter’s and George W. Bush’s Severed Head Army Mix.” Charming.

Is there any redemption for this awful mess? Miles Davis and Radiohead do their part, but the single thing that has saved Wayne Coyne from the eternal fires of hell is Bjork’s “Unravel.” I thank Iceland every day for their gift of The Queen of All That Is Wonderful. She glows, she delights and most importantly, she consistently articulates love without being cliché: “while you are away/ my heart comes undone/ slowly unravels/ in a ball of yarn.” Of course, in Bjork’s accent, “undone” is an exact rhyme for “yarn.” Compared to the deadly sins of this compilation, I think we can forgive her.