The Flaming Lips
At War with the Mystics
It’s hard to believe when the realization hits you, but it becomes more apparent with every successive play: “Holy shit, the Flaming Lips have made a funk/soul album.” From the inspired grind of “Free Radicals” to the smooth keys of “Ambulance Driver,” At War with the Mystic is closer to a reformed tweakhead’s psychedelic tribute to Sign ’O’ the Times than a rock-based sonic assault. That’s not to say that the band has abandoned its former self. Soft Bulletin fans will be instantly won over by the album’s epic scope, and Yoshimi fans…should probably seriously consider becoming Soft Bulletin fans. The album also sees the Lips find room for much of the absurdity that dominated albums such as Clouds Taste Metallic and Hit to Death in the Future Head. Each track is filled with the kind of insane arrangements that only resident genius Stephen Drozd could conceive of or pull off. Look no further than “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” for an example. Comprised, for the most part, of a voice repeating the title phrase, it’s organic, melodic and enthralling. “Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung” is the album’s real mile marker though. Glowing and brilliant, it highlights the band’s ability to successfully focus in on a core sound with each album and then stretch it as far as possible.