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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 24, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Repetitive ‘Lips’ side project fails to impress

“Musik, Die Schwer zu Twerk”

Electric Wurms

Side projects from well-established bands are often a tricky business. Few famous spinoff bands exist — and for good reason. Usually they fail to live up to the greatness expected from the group they were born from. Electric Wurms, created by The Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and band member Steven Drozd, is no different. Its first EP, “Musik, Die Schwer zu Twerk,” is a failed attempt at psychedelic electronica.

The album starts off on a strong foot with “I Could Only See Clouds,” the intense staccato of drums, synth and guitar provide a nice juxtaposition to Drozd’s faraway voice. The lyrics are imprecise and indistinguishable, but it doesn’­t matter — Drozd’s harmonious singing acts as much like an instrument as the synths diligently buzzing along with him.

However, that’s the last high point in the album for far too long. Loosely translated, the title means, “Music that’s hard to twerk to,” an accurate name if ever there was one. Not only are most of these songs too slow to dance to, they have no discernable beat.

“Futuristic Hallucination” meanders on hypnotically with a repetitive bass line and synthesizers unevenly beeping like submarine radar. There’s no climax, no catch, no chorus. There’s no point at which this song achieves anything. It’s just the same noises over and over and over again. It’s the same story with “Living,” an overlong, nightmarish track that doesn’t stray from the same electric drum beat for a full seven minutes.

The album picks up with “Transform!!!,” which finally injects some much-needed energy into the EP. The overbearing synthesizer has taken a break to make room for a strumming, classic rock bass line. Final track, “Heart of the Sunrise,” also tones it down on the electric noises to great effect. Drozd’s vocals are, for the first time, pretty and dreamy. A pleasant guitar, a quiet drum and an occasionally bumping synth act as more of an accessory to his falsetto voice and clashes with neither him nor the other band members. For the first and last time, a song on this album has changes and hooks, and it’s a shame it didn’t happen sooner.

Electric Wurms had the potential to be an exploration of The Flaming Lips’ growing psychedelic interests; however, the abstract instrumentation and beat in most of the songs keep this side project from reaching its full potential.

Evin Billington can be reached at ebillin1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @EvinBillington