Flaming Lips: Free Radicals
Flaming Lips – At War With the Mystics
April 4, 2006
Warner Brothers Records
Victim of Loudness War? Yes
The Flaming Lips have been one of the few bands keeping music interesting in the last decade or so. With so many corporate rock and pop acts cluttering the market for a quick cash-in on the latest trends, The Flaming Lips have been a constant diversion, taking new leaps and bounds with each successive release. Their last two full-length albums (1999’s The Soft Bulletin and 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots) have been testaments to the power of successful experimentation, blending traditional instrumentation with blindingly original sounds and textures. So it’s no surprise that their latest release, At War with the Mystics carries both high expectations and great anticipation with it.
It’s also no surprise that the album delivers. From start to finish, At War with the Mystics thrills the listener in a way only The Flaming Lips and a limited number of other acts are able to: completely. There is not one moment on the entire record that makes you want to skip ahead to another track, nor is there a second that leaves you flat. The band creates layer upon layer of sounds that are familiar while simultaneously being undeniably fresh, a quality that has become almost exclusively theirs. The Flaming Lips possess the miraculous ability to retain just enough of their trademark style to keep things welcoming and add a wealth of innovation to keep things interesting.
The album kicks off with a dynamic pairing of tracks, “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” and “Free Radicals,” two songs that will undoubtedly further The Flaming Lips’ legend. The former builds itself on the simple repetition of the word (you guessed it) “yeah” and works itself into an inspired frenzy. The latter presents one of Wayne Coyne’s most interesting vocal offerings around an absolutely gripping melody. Both get the album off in the right direction and get the listener excited about what’s to come.
What follows is what you’d expect: a musical drug trip that not only expands your mind but makes you use it in the process. Each song begs to be dissected, both lyrically and musically, and cannot be fully appreciated until one has several listens under their belt. But that’s not to say that the album is complicated or inaccessible. The beauty with Mystics, as with any Flaming Lips release, is that it is simultaneously rewardingly intricate and remarkably simple. Each song is a joy on the first listen, but still surprises you after multiple plays.
The bottom line is if you want an album that is worth the ridiculous retail price that most stores are charging these days, At War with the Mystics is the album to get. Every song is a winner and the entire record is another success for The Flaming Lips. Many wondered if the band would live up to the hype surrounding Mystics and the truth is that they didn’t. They surpassed it.
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