April 12, 2006
The Flaming Lips - At War with the Mystics: Album Review
The Flaming Lips, At War with the Mystics (Wonder Bros, 2006)
I used to think I was as big a fan of TFL as anyone, but then it's been like a good third of my life since The Soft Bulletin came out. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which is not particularly new itself, never really sat well with me, nor has the legion of jam band assholes who have become fans of theirs in the interim. I wonder if they'll all run out and buy this, or if this is the point when TFL is finally dropped from Warners.
THE YEAH YEAH YEAH SONG
The acapella intro thingy calls to mind Queen to the point where I can see the video for "Bohemian Rhapsody" they used to play back during the Wayne's World era. The rest of it is typically new agey and gay in the vein of Yoshimi.
Is this them trying to sound like ex-label mate Prince? What's with this falsetto bullshit? I think the lyrics might be taking aim at the Bush Gang, as if this was 2002.
THE SOUND OF FAILURE/IT'S DARK...
This has a sort of '70s AM radio vibe, which is nice in the since that it's more listenable to those first couple of songs, but I'm not sure how good it is in its own right.
MY COSMIC AUTUMN REBELLION
A wack-ass rewrite of that one song from Yoshimi, about the sun or whatever.
VEIN OF STARS
Again, very much like something from the last album. Lots of "trippy" orchestration and what have you, but light on anything really interesting.
THE WIZARD TURNS ON...
This one eschews any kind of song and launches headlong into a retarded-ass jam.
IT OVERTAKES ME/THE STARS ARE SO BIG
In several parts, as if it was - again - "Bohemian Rhapsody." The first part is pointless and silly. The second part is just boring.
MR. AMBULANCE DRIVER
Has an almost R&B feel to it. The lyrics are typically morbid and vapid.
HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE
Fuck, what is this? It almost sounds like the first single from that Gwen Stefani album. "Whatchu Waitin' For?" or whatever.
Awesome, actually. But way too late to make much of a difference.
POMPEII AM GOTTERDAMMERUNG
Sounds like an attempt to wrap things up, conceptually. Only thing is, I wasn't really following the "plot" or whatever to begin with.
Also not bad (if not particularly interesing), and not a bad way to end the album.
COMMENTS: In the intro, I let on that I don't particularly care for Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which is true. But I can respect Yoshimi on a certain level. This is like a weak-ass retread of that album, with a few ill-advised attempts at being eclectic for the sake of being eclectic. Again, I wonder if this is the end of an era.
BEST TRACKS: "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" "The W.A.N.D."
Byron Crawford a/k/a Bol is the celebrated author of several books, most recently NaS Lost: A Tribute to the Little Homey.
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