Sound: There's one thing you're guaranteed when you buy the latest Flaming Lips' record, "At War With The Mystics." You'll get so many styles of music from track to track that you'll swear you could have been listening to a different band for each one. But that's exactly why The Flaming Lips have deserved to endure for over 20 years -- the band just does not get dull.
With the oddly intriguing vocals and guitar work of Wayne Coyne, backed by Michael Ivins on bass and piano, and Steven Drozd on drums, guitars, keyboards and the instrument goes on and on, Oklahoma City's The Flaming Lips offer listeners plenty of ear candy on its latest release "At War With The Mystics."
At the top of the tops are The Wizard Turns and Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung, two seductive little tunes that gives an homage of sorts to the polished, dreamy style Pink Floyd made its own. With The Wizard Turns On, an instrumental dusted with a driving wah line, and Pompeii, supplied with minimal singing, both stand by accentuating the best features of the band. Every member displays a keen virtuosity over their respective instrument, as well as the ability to arrange an advanced, yet still melodic, composition.
The opening track The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song already made a mark at number 16 on the UK Singles chart, but this song is not anywhere near the best that the new CD has to offer. Starting out with a Rusted-Root-type vibe, the overlying melody song never goes anywhere that unique. That's not to say the band does not enhance the song with unexpected tools like a talkbox, but even putting the Frampton touch on it can't really release the melody from its limitations.
Quite unexpectedly, At War With the Mystics suddenly offers a Prince-like song that is quite possibly the best song on the CD. With its grooving base line and the guitar teasing with its minimal, yet satisfying continuous riff, the song goes in a completely different direction than every other track on the album. Coyne's falsetto deliver completes the package, and marks a refreshing chance from his usual singing tone. // 9
Lyrics: The Flaming Lips project messages in a simple, concise when it comes to their lyrics on the new CD. Unfortunately, this straightforward lyrical style can either help or hinder, depending on the song. In a song like The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, the repetitive lyrics can be a benefit in the fact that it's the first track on the CD and listeners can immediately remember the tune. However, with the underlying melody having the same type of repetitive aspect as the lyrics do, it can be a bit mundane.
In contrast, the reflective and moody song The Sound Of Failure mirrors the music with its exploration of a girl handling grief in the face of the world's overflowing pop culture images. "Go tell Britney and go tell Gwen; She's not trying to go against all them; Cause she's too scared and she can't pretend." Highlighted by a haunting flute, the lyrics are again straightforward, but this time the payoff is a beautiful one. By honing in on the dilemma of feeling pain in a Britney-fied world, The Sound Of Failure shows a personal and heart-felt side of the band. // 7
Overall Impression: The Flaming Lips' ability to convey a song with an array of instruments, not to mention music genres/styles, is truly evident in At War With the Mystics. From one moment relaying a Pink Floyd-esque instrumental to the next, where the band takes a trip to their funky side, the band has set a new bar for itself.
With so many underlying sounds for the ear to take in, listeners will likely find it a pleasure to go over this CD over and over again. And with teach listen, you're likely to hear a whole other element to the song not previously absorbed the first go-round. And that's getting your money's worth right there. // 9