Monday, April 08, 2013

The Flaming Lips: "The Terror" (album review)

After 30 years as a band The Flaming Lips are both a success story that should be lauded, and a cautionary tale.  With masterpieces like Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, The Soft Bulletin, Clouds Taste Metallic, and Transmission From the Satellite Heart, the band earned themselves a long long leash which has allowed them to experiment and play the music they want to make.

Unfortunately, the success of those albums has lead to the band making the music they want to make.  The result are self-indulgent, almost unlistenable records like 2009's Embryonic and it's proper follow-up, The Terror, which is set for release on April 16th (not to mention odd dalliances in between).



The poster child for the band's woes is "You Are Alone".  The track is messy, directionless, and ultimately boring.  That's a theme that is revisited on the bubbing, but go-nowhere "Try To Explain", and the drifting disembodied "Be Free, A Way".

The meandering 13-minute "You Lust" vibrates to the point of being annoying.  The title track begins with a mildly hypnotic groove.  That light trance is shaken off as soon as Wayne Coyne's amorphous high-pitched vocals kick in.

Some moments do show glimmers of potential.  The album opener "Look...The Sun Is Rising" has a choppy electronic backbone which is sliced through again and again by a metallic edge.  An eerie swirl is punctuated by cutting guitar on "Butterfly, How Long It Takes It Die".

The strength of the Flaming Lips used to be their clever lyrics, unusual concepts, and slightly off-kilter presentation.  Nowadays they seem compelled to push the boundaries just for the sake of pushing the boundaries.  Their new formula is to try to defy all formulas.  It hasn't worked for the last few records and it doesn't work on The Terror either.

Best tracks: "Look...The Sun Is Rising", "Always There...In Our Hearts"

Track listing for The Terror:
  • Look...The Sun Is Rising
  • Be Free, A Way
  • Try To Explain
  • You Lust
  • The Terror
  • You Are Alone
  • Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die
  • Turning Violent
  • Always There...In Our Hearts
3.5/10

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