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The Flaming Lips - At War with the Mystics (Cover Artwork)

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips: At War with the MysticsAt War with the Mystics (2006)
Warner Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: indie_is_better_than_punkindie_is_better_than
(others by this writer | submit your own)

In the video for "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" -- the leadoff track and first single on At War with the Mystics -- singer Wayne Coyne oversees a sort of "sport" in which random victims are forcibly covered in doughnuts and subsequently chased and captured by obese men and police officers. Toward the end.
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In the video for "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" -- the leadoff track and first single on At War with the Mystics -- singer Wayne Coyne oversees a sort of "sport" in which random victims are forcibly covered in doughnuts and subsequently chased and captured by obese men and police officers. Toward the end of the video, Coyne is betrayed by his cohorts and becomes a victim of his own game. This five-minute spot is analogous to the Flaming Lips' entire career.

Since the 1992 release of Hit to Death in the Future Head, the Lips' major label debut on Warner Brothers, the band has insisted on rebelling against alternative rock, effectively victimizing the very norms of the genre. However, with each new record it has become exceedingly clear that their own rebellion hasn't been enough, and now the band seemingly stands opposed to even its own original sound. The Flaming Lips have turned on themselves.

At War with the Mystics is the Lips' 12th full-length album, their seventh on Warner Brothers, and by far their weirdest. The electronic glitches and freakish sound effects that first appeared on their last album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, are now the focal point of many of their songs. This time, though, Coyne and company aren't afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves.

The instrumental track "The Wizard Turns On…" and the penultimate jam "Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung" both draw heavily from Pink Floyd, as do many other key moments on the record. "Free Radicals" elicits even stranger comparisons, as Coyne's soprano tone is reminiscent of Prince and even hip-hop darling Pharrell Williams.

The growth in the Lips' sound, however, hasn't exactly mirrored the growth (or lack thereof) in Coyne's lyrics. The novel but amateurish early `90s semi-hit "She Don't Use Jelly" is incomparable to anything on At War with the Mystics musically, but lyrically it isn't that different. The song "Haven't Got a Clue," for instance, is centered on the less-than-stellar lyrics "Every time you state your case / The more I want to punch your face." Even when the subject matter sounds deep, like on "Free Radicals," a chorus like "You think you're radical, but you're not so radical / In fact, you're fanatical" can ruin it.

However, the lyrics are the only problem with this album, and even they aren't all bad. The occasional lyrical misstep may subtract from its flow, but At War with the Mystics is undoubtedly among the Flaming Lips' best. If the band's progression continues, it shouldn't be too long before it finally releases that record that truly blows us all away. Until then, we'll have to settle for pretty good.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (April 23, 2006)

the lips got it going on. punk rock has shit on these dudes.

givemeamuseumandillfillit (April 23, 2006)

I actually went to the zaireeka tour, and that totally blew me away.

A 400 capacity venue, 20 boomboxes on stage, 20 randomly selected persons from the crowd holding them, and Wayne, totally drugged out, conducting it all.

All in all, one of the best shows i ever seen.

rinjonjori (April 20, 2006)

There will always be ten chicks that you want that are into this band. Check them out... it's far more intersting than the Dave Matthews Band

http://rnanothersunnydayinpop.blogspot.com

GreenVandal (April 20, 2006)

My emoticon got messed up. Lame.

GreenVandal (April 20, 2006)

:d

indie_is_better_than_punk (April 19, 2006)

gotcha.

GreenVandal (April 19, 2006)

funny how I said that but my rating was a 10. Makes you think doesnt it?

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

Go do another commercial with a huge capitalist company like Hewlett Packard you indie poser old men fucks. I hate the flaming lips so much.

indie_is_better_than_punk (April 19, 2006)

"I thought this was PUNK news."

there's one in every thread......open your mind man.

GreenVandal (April 19, 2006)

I thought this was PUNK news.

benz (April 18, 2006)

And I agree "Soft Bulletin" is one of the best albums ever. Everything from "Transmissions From The Satellite Heart" til now is worth getting.

benz (April 18, 2006)

I still think this is great. Even though it's trippier than other FL joints, its still really good. Give it a couple more listens, it grows on you.

-benz

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

I heard that the Flamming Lips once opened for Black Flag (during the later tours) and they just played the entire Darkside of the Moon album

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

This is dork shit. The music video and song are like fucking Bowling for Soup or something.

indie_is_better_than_punk (April 18, 2006)

"Regarding "it shouldn’t be too long before it finally releases that record that truly blows us all away" ... you have heard of The Soft Bulletin, right? Do you know the impact that that album had on contemporary 'indie rock'?"

i am aware of the impact that album has had and how beloved it is. it's a wonderful album, but did it really blow you away? it didn't have the effect on me. i'm still waiting to be blown away by the lips -- and for that to happen wayne's gonna have to write some better lyrics than the ones on "the spiderbite song" (for instance).

but don't get me wrong, i'm a huge flaming lips fan.

indie_is_better_than_punk (April 18, 2006)

this is the first review i've ever submitted to this site, but i encourage everyone to check out http://www.72hrsonline.com if you like it. i write for that zine, which is an online supplement to the Ball State University newspaper.

anyway, to answer a couple questions i have seen, for anyone who wants a "gateway" lips album, i encourage you to pick up "the soft bulletin." it's by far their most accessbile and widely considered to be their best. however, my personal favorite is "transmissions from the sattelite heart."

as for "zaireeka," yes it's on 4 different discs that need to be played simultaneously for a full experience. however, it's not just a throwaway gimmick. it is my favorite album after "transmissions.." even without the gimmick.

for anyone who doesn't have the ability to play 4 albums at once, i suggest checking out a torrent site or something of the like to find a mixed version of the album, or mixing it yourself using a program like acid pro. its a very daring album musically and alot of fun to listen to.

however, nothing can compare to the 4-disc super-surround sound experience. especially with a little weed in the mix.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

"I read somewhere that these guys released an album on 4 discs that you were supposed to play simultaneously - is that true? Did people actually do it? Or could you listen to them individually too?"

Yeah, it is true. It's way cool. You can, as it describes in the booklet, that you can listen to them individually, or 2 CDs at once or 3 CDs at once. But it's best with all four at once. It's really interesting and pretty cool. It's also really tight to do drugs too. Because you've got noises coming around from four different directions, and parts weaving in and out. It's worth buying, if you can find it.

Scruffy (April 18, 2006)

"I read somewhere that these guys released an album on 4 discs that you were supposed to play simultaneously - is that true? Did people actually do it? Or could you listen to them individually too?"

That would be Zaireeka. And apparently, no, you can't listen to them individually. You have to listen to it all together. Stupid, eh? I mean, I'd have to hear it to know for sure, but from what friends who listen to it tell me, it's basically one album, but they just split the tracks of each song amonst 4 discs.

It'd be genius if someone made a similar album where you could listen to each disc as it's own album, but when put together it formed a mega-album, kind of like an audio version of the constructicons, rather than a torn apart toy that you have to put together to enjoy.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

Wow, Built to Spill has yet to be reviewed on this site. Their new album came out last week, and has garnered some pretty decent reviews. I won't be supporting Warner anytime soon though.

Can't stand the Flaming Lips. I think of them as a rock band for children.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

Regarding "it shouldn’t be too long before it finally releases that record that truly blows us all away" ... you have heard of The Soft Bulletin, right? Do you know the impact that that album had on contemporary 'indie rock'?

aubin (April 18, 2006)

This is a solid but very weird record. As I listened to it, I couldn't help but think how normal Modest Mouse sounds by comparison. That band is weird, but the Lips are in a whole other strata of bizarreness.

ThreeChordsAndTheTruth (April 18, 2006)

I read somewhere that these guys released an album on 4 discs that you were supposed to play simultaneously - is that true? Did people actually do it? Or could you listen to them individually too?

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

This is a surprisingly well-written review, especially for Punknews.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

I just got the Soft Bulletin in 5.1, so I'm set for right now. I might pick this up later though

Scruffy (April 18, 2006)

I haven't watched the video, but if it truly is the Running Man homage it seems to be from your description, then, for once, I give props to the Flaming Lips.

Also, Not-To-Regret, I hate the Flaming Lips, but I still think, if you like this kind of music, I'd start with Soft Bulletin.

blade-runner (April 18, 2006)

Well, I should say from "Transmissions from the Satellite Heart" onwards.

blade-runner (April 18, 2006)

Try "Clouds Taste Metallic" first, it pretty much sums them up as a band.

Most everthing released from there onwards is essential.

Not-To-Regret (April 18, 2006)

What's a good album to start? I've always wanted to get into these guys but haven't found an accessible song that has pulled me in. I've downloaded Zaireeka but have yet to find 4 CD players...

blade-runner (April 18, 2006)

This album isn't even in the same league as The Lips' at their best.

I can guarantee 'Yoshimi.. will go down as the last great Flaming Lips Record.

Their Best Ever: Hands Down 'The Soft Bulletin'

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

these guys are pretty big and have been around for awhile.

probably bigger than all of the bands reviewed this week when looking at fan base, although, thats not really saying too much

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

i saw this at stop and shop

i didnt really know these guys were that big

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