The Flaming Lips have now become predictably good. Yet some features of this adroit band remain entirely unpredictable, such as their desired artistic and thematic directions, which vary so erratically, yet laudably, with each release.
Here, the Lips choose to fully incorporate buzzing, distorted guitars for, arguably, the first time since 1995's 'Clouds Taste Metallic'. A track such as 'The W.A.N.D.' is more guitar-driven than anything you'll find on the two preceding albums, 'Yoshimi' and 'The Soft Bulletin'.
Moreover, thematically, the Lips have lent this album a previously atypical outward contemporary political edge, with 'The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song' finding vocalist Wayne Coyne musing philosophically over the influence of power on the individual. Delightfully, though, the Lips have not shed their idiosyncratic skin, and whilst 'The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song' may explore contemporaneously relevant themes, it is paradoxically unorthodox, with its robotic-sounding instrumentation and memorable 'yeah yeah yeah' harmonics. Pivotally, it sounds great and is a triumphant and apt commencement to AWWTM.
This disparity in style between AWWTM and the band's prior, aforementioned successes, has understandably left certain fans disappointed, however, even though this album may require comprehensive listening for steadfast 'Yoshimi' and 'Soft Bulletin' fans to acclimatise, it is well worth the effort, and the Lips must be commended for continually pushing sonic boundaries. This innovation is at its most glaring on the terrifically titled, 'Pompeii am Götterdämmerung', which encompasses some distinctive, skewed, psychedelic vocals, accompanied by haunting and rousing instrumentation, and is unlike anything in the band's back-catalogue. It's an irrefutably pioneering track.
So, for any Flaming Lips fan who has not purchased this gem yet, I will not ruin any more of its aural surprises. All I can suggest is that you buy this exceptionally inventive, painstakingly fashioned piece of work.