Partway through Bradley Beesley's comprehensive, hypercolour chronicle of the Flaming Lips' long, strange trip, he takes things down about a hundred notches for an intensely intimate interview with multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd. It's shot in a small, bare room in stark black-and-white as Drozd fiddles with odd-looking objects on the table and speaks matter-of-factly about his demons. It takes a moment to realize you're watching a smack junkie set up his rig and shoot up.
Drozd's candour about his heroin addiction (and subsequent stint getting clean in upstate New York) is one of many powerful revelations brought to light in this stellar doc. Oklahoman Beesley spent years following Wayne Coyne and the Lips, and brings tons of archival footage, behind-the-scenes snapshots and in-depth interviews to the story of how the band went from freakish acidhead bashers to psych-pop savants.
Beesley's personal relationship with Coyne and co. adds an element of raw honesty to their conversations - Drozd's long-suffering girlfriend talks frankly about his mother's suicide, Coyne ruefully dishes on his brother's stints in the slammer - and the oversaturated colours and trippy editing are a great aesthetic match for the Lips' wacko ethos. While it's a bit wide-eyed, the members' personal dramas balance out The Fearless Freaks' more fawning moments.