I'll admit right now that I've gone the completely backwards route in being introduced to the Flaming Lips. Like everyone else, I heard the song "She Don't Use Jelly" when it came out clear back in 1994, but at the time, it just didn't do much for me. Then, just last year I heard their amazing new album The Soft Bulletin and I began to wonder just why the hell I hadn't given the group a second listen. Although, Transmissions From The Satellite Heart is quite a different album than their newest effort, it still has a ton of excellent tracks and definitely shows that the group didn't just come out of nowhere. They've been toiling along for the past 15 year, creating nearly an album a year.
One of the main differences between The Soft Bulletin and Transmissions From The Satellite Heart is that the songs on Transmissions... tend to follow more of a tradition rock song structure route. It's also a little bit louder of an album for the most part, but the lyrics are still somewhat stream-of-consciousness, somewhat science related, and still quite interesting.
The disc starts off with a bit of radio noise and some strumming guitar on the ode to anti-mainstream music with "Turn It On." After another super-catchy track in "Pilot Can At The Queer Of God," the group slows things down and spaces out a bit with "Oh My Pregnant Head." It's more of a precursor sound to what they've done more recently with a very strange drum track, whining guitars, and layered vocals. Of course, then up comes the groups biggest song ever in "She Don't Use Jelly." It's one of those songs that may have annoyed you the first time around, but listening to it years later (when it's not playing on every radio station), you find yourself singing along with every word.
Actually, it's kind of strange that the aforementioned track was the only one that got really big off this album. With the sing-along qualities of the first two tracks (minus the rather unwieldy titled of the 2nd track), plus the very hum-able "Be My Head," this album could have easily been even bigger. Of course, the group also has tracks like the fuzzy, lo-fi acoustic guitar sounds of "Chewin' The Apple Of Your Eye," and the strange ramblings of "******." The disc ends with one of the groups best tracks ever in "Slow Nerve Action." With absolutely HUGE drums and a feedback-laden, wah-wah guitar and excellent vocals, you'll find yourself cranking the volume clear through the end of things. Overall, it's another great album from the group, although not quite as cohesive as The Soft Bulletin.