Sunday, February 12, 2006

'At War With the Mystics' -- Review

At War With the Mystics

The Flaming Lips' 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots' is the 21st century's 'Sergeant Pepper's.' The Lips' followup album, "At War With the Mystics" is nearly impossible to discuss without saying "eagerly anticipated," "much desired," or any sort of pat phrase to indicate that the entire music industry from the fat guys on top to the fans in high-water indie pants has been going through the motions of liking new music until this thing hits the stands.

'Yoshimi' was hopeful, sad, eager and innocent as an elderly alien child from space, and the entire world has been wondering: what can those acid-soaked aging Xers possibly do next?

The best way to be disappointed by 'War' is to listen to it hoping for 'Yoshimi II." This record doesn't have the same beat-heavy, sugar-pop blast that its predecessor does. The first two tracks, "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" and "Free Radicals" are built around chants that border on irritating and tantalize with the hope of a full-on rock-out without ever quite exploding the way I wanted them to.

The following cluster of songs fade back into heavy mellow psychedelic territory, sounding at first pass like the Flaming Lips' efforts at a 70's hippie sci-fi film score. Although the band doesnt' go straight into James Taylor territory, there's a definite barefoot feel-good vibe to the record that sounds a little too much like a hippie temptress with long, long, armpit hair : elegant and alluring, but not without definite aesthetic hurdles.

In either case, you'll get over it pretty quickly and never look back.

"The W.A.N.D." is the first single from 'War' approved for release in the States, and is the only true rock-out anthem on the record. It delivers. While this album isn't 'The Soft Bulletin' or 'Yoshimi,' it's great stuff.

Look. It's late. I'm up late trying to come up with a bunch of clever analogies and witty insights into the latest release from a band that made themselves my favorite with their last record. And frankly, people, the gears are grinding slowly. I'm tired as hell.

Just listen to the album yourselves and tell me what you think. If I had a bigger blog or more traffic, I might not do this, but my repeat visits are minimal -- as always, the link above is good for 25 downloads or seven days.

The fact is, this is a great album, and a real bold move into some newer territory from a band that has never played it safe... it's not what you think you want, but I guarantee that once you hear it a few times, you'll be hooked.


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