The Flaming Lips release Beatles inspired cover album

After 2013’s “The Terror,” neo-psychedelic band The Flaming Lips have released their third cover album, “With a Little Help From My Fwends.” Taking on the entirety of The Beatles’ 1964 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a daunting goal in itself, so the band recruited some new and old friends for contributions. Some come from alternative artists like J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. and Maynard James Keenan from Tool.  Most notably, vocals are featured from former Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus on “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” After having Lips’ singer Wayne Coyne appear on Cyrus’ Bangerz Tour to sing the Lips’ classic “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1” and even performing their Beatles cover on the Billboard Music Awards, the duo has tracked their ‘fwendship’ through Coyne’s oft-deleted Instagram account.

Cyrus takes the role of Paul McCartney on the final track of the record, “A Day In the Life” which like many of the tracks on the album is transformed from lush orchestral arrangements into avant-garde synthpop blips. Harps and violins are traded off for auto-tune and 808 drum beats in an effort to bring “Sgt. Pepper” into the 21st century.

However, this isn’t the band’s first collaboration with controversial pop singers. On their 2012 album “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends,” the band recruited the artist formerly known as Ke$ha for a track with Biz Markie. “With A Little Help From My Friends” sees a complete transformation from Ringo Star’s legato call-and-response dynamic, to a harsh-screaming-over-breakbeats composition.

Even George Harrison’s solo moment on the original record “Within You Without You” imitates the use of traditional Indian musical instruments (sitars and tabla) with fuzz-laden drones and arpeggiators. Other appearances on the album come from The Flaming Lips’ side projects with related bands Electric Wurms, a band comprised of Coyne and Lips’ guitarist Steven Drozd, appears on the cover of “Fixing A Hole.” Stardeath and White Dwarfs is the band of Wayne Coyne’s nephew Dennis Coyne and appears alongside Tegan and Sara on “Lovely Rita.” They also appeared on The Flaming Lips’ 2009 cover album of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” aptly titled “The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs with Henry Rollins and Peaches Doing The Dark Side of the Moon” with Henry Rollins of Black Flag and vocalist Peaches.

In 2012, the band released another cover with a tribute to King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King” on “Playing Hide and Seek with the Ghosts of Dawn,” again with The Lips and Stardeath both collaborating. Proceeds from sales of the record go to the “The Bella Foundation,” an organization in Oklahoma City which provides veterinary care for pet owners in need.

Overall, the album shifts and distorts the iconic classic rock record into a strictly modernist piece of electronica, fraught with collaborations. The campiness of The Beatles is replaced by the sardonic and macabre sound The Flaming Lips has developed in their recent records.