The Flaming Lips: Clouds Taste Metallic (1995)
After signing with Warner Brothers earlier in the decade, the band largely eased off their early post-punk psychedelic garage rock into a more studio-enhanced, musically complex, pop-tinged alt.rock. 1992's Hit to Death in the Future Head and 1993's Transmissions from the Satellite Heart represented a sort of middle-ground between the band's more eccentric, boisterous tendencies and their growing pop sophistication. With Clouds, they finished sanding off a lot of the rough edges, ending up with their most baroque, musically rich album to date, while still retaining the early guitar-driven energy.
After the slow-churn opener, the album kicks off in earnest with "Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles," the sort of fizzy, turbo-charged skewed pop song that had become second-nature for the band by this point. There are a number of like-minded, upbeat rockers just offbeat enough to skirt radio-friendliness, like the whimsical "This Here Giraffe," the laid-back acoustic shamble of "Brainville," noisy garage rocker "Kim's Watermelon Gun," and the chipper, melodic pop of "Christmas at the Zoo." The high point is closing track "Bad Days," a sort of post-punk "Take This Job and Shove It" with a restrained opening segment launching into a delirious marching band stomp.
The album is a little slower and quieter in spots, and can drag a bit, but overall gives a good preview of the more orchestrated, noise-free studio sheen that would come with Bulletin and later albums.
Here's the video for "Bad Days":