Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Flaming Lips, De La Soul, Kinky

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The Unlimited Sunshine tour is one of the more peculiar and stylistically diverse packages assembled in recent memory. It's not all good--Cake headlines--but it looks smart on paper. On Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Warner Brothers), their long-anticipated follow-up to the kaleidoscopic The Soft Bulletin, the Flaming Lips continue to grow, but it's not their most consistent work. Swaddling their rickety organic psychedelia in Technicolor electronica creates a nice tension, but sometimes the electronic elements just call attention to themselves. The instrumental "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 2" is a bore, an antagonizingly expanded electro-prog introduction for a song that never materializes, while the robotic rhythms in "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell" trample the tune's delicate beauty. On the other hand, the album contains some of Wayne Coyne's most beautiful melodies and most adult songs, with positivity in the face of despair as a loose theme. Being an adult in hip-hop is a lot harder, but on last year's AOI: Bionix (Tommy Boy) De La Soul found a way. As Posdnuos raps on the album opener, "Unlike these underground MCs who rock for heads / We include the throat, chest, arms, and legs." The album contains its fair share of boasting, but "Trying People" confronts familial responsibility in all of its complexity: "And my relationship's a big question / 'Cause my career's a clear hindrance to her progression / Said she needs a man and our kids need a father / I'm not at all ready to hear her say don't bother." Sometimes things get goopy--"Simply Havin" hijacks Paul McCartney's treacly "Wonderful Christmas Time"--but when guest star Cee-Lo rasps the gospel on the next track, "Held Down," all is forgiven. The most exciting act on the bill may be Kinky, a young quintet from Monterrey, Mexico. On the group's eponymously titled debut, produced by Chris Allison (Beta Band, Coldplay), they shuffle a global array of dance styles like Miami disco, samba, cumbia, Ibiza house, New York electro, and Cuban salsa into a shimmery new sound. Kinky reinforce my theory that pop musicians from outside the Anglo world can tune out rock's insistent heartbeat better than we can, allowing them to blend other influences more gracefully. Modest Mouse and the Hackensaw Boys also perform. Friday, August 30, 6 PM, Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence; 773-561-9500 or 312-559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/J. Michelle Martin, Mo Daoud.

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