4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Genius From The Lips
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...
Published on 18 Mar. 2007 by Chris G.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars War Of The Pops
Having been a long time fan of The Flaming Lips (since 1993's brilliant Transmissions From The Satellite Heart) I have always looked forward to their next and next albums, wondering what new direction they will take. Backstory: Of Their earlier work, Hit To Death In The Future Head (1990) still remains probably their greatest rock n pop work, this was followed by...
Published on 4 April 2006 by David F. Williams
Most Helpful First | Newest First
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising musical passages,
In interviews leading up to the release of At War With The Mystics, lead Lip Wayne Coyne was enthusing about how much the band were enjoying playing Black Sabbath's War Pigs live and promising a move to more of a hard-rock direction. Sure there is more distorted bass than before though fans of the band's brilliant two previous LPs - 1999's Soft Bulletin and 2002's Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots - will not be disappointed by the new album.
One difference between AWWTM and its predecessors though is that you are less likely to hear the best tracks from the new LP on the radio. Although lead single The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song is excellent, some of the other more immediate songs such as Free Radicals and the main body of It Overtakes Me are slightly over reliant on one riff or chord sequence.
No need to worry though as they are still pretty good and the best bits of At War With The Mystics are magnificent. Particular highlights for me are the Pink Floyd influenced Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung and acoustic prog arpeggios at the end of the aforementioned It Overtakes Me. The crowning glory though is The Sound Of Failure with its excellent melody and hypnotic soul-influenced guitars which remind me strangely of classic Marvin Gaye.
When it comes to mesmerising musical passages, there's barely a band around who can beat the Flaming Lips. At War With The Mystics is another superb LP which, like its two predecessors, is among the best releases of the last 10 years.
5.0 out of 5 stars "At War.." presents an unfettered and unfolding landscape of what can, at best, be known as Stadium Stoner Rock.,
It really doesn't seem like four years ago that the Flaming Lips, then a relatively obscure and underloved oddity famous for "She Don't Use Jelly", released yet another underperforming album in the shape of "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots".
If anything the intervening years have seen them grow conversely huge : the less they do the bigger they get. It's known, in scientific circles, as the Pink Floyd effect. The follow up then, April's "At War With The Mystics", is by no means a disappointment.
The trademarks of their sound are here : but in some way strengthened. As if this were all the bits they take out and use to form Powdered Flaming Lips. An uber-concoction of their essence. The familiar tones of the always otherworldly Wayne Coyne from Oklahoma, and the rest of the band (again, not really known for the strength of their personality), sound like they've never been away. The quirky, obtuse lyrics that provide us with such wonderful titles as "The Cosmic Autumn Rebellion" and "It Overtakes Me, The Stars Are So Big, I Am So Small, Do I Stand A Chance?" are, as ever, in bafflingly prolific effect. The music too is familiar as the work of the men behind the Pink Robots, and yet it isn't.
In some ways, the almost retrograde production harks back to 1997's plain--weird "Zaireeka" (though thankfully without the 4CD experimentation), yet seems light years ahead at the same time. Borrowing prolifically from their sonic box of tricks of years past - the heavily distorted guitars that sound way too much like something else that used to be a guitar before it was FX'ed out of all recognition, the whimsical, child-learning-how-to-play piano work that underpins everything, and the weird phased percussion - "At War With The Mystics" is the sound of a dog relearning old tricks.
Thankfully, it's a stronger album that the predecessor. Whereas the previous album suffered from the inclusion at random places of obtuse, forgettable sound collages with drums the cover erroneously called `songs', "At War.." dispenses with this, and presents an unfettered and unfolding landscape of what can, at best, be known as Stadium Stoner Rock. It's practically ideal for sitting around getting stoned. On CD or MP3 you don't even have to get up to change sides.
Opening with the wonderfully navel-gazing "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song", it's clear this is no ordinary album. What ordinary album would open with a barbershop style quartet call-and-response debate of such questions as "If you could blow up the world at the flick of a switch would you do it? If you could make everyone poor so you could be rich would you do it?". We sure as hell ain't even on Earth anymore. If anything, The Flaming Lips have conquered the robots, and kept going into Inner Space.
Not to say that the Lips are stuck deep inside Dennis Quaid's veins, but their music really serves the true purpose of art. To elevate. To take me to the other place. To move us beyond the mundane, the mediocre, the unaspirational who settle for something less than brillance, and gives us whole new colours to set loose on the imagination of our ears.
Ah, I'm being psuedo-intellectual again. But if music like this doesn't make you realise that most music in the world, and most bands we love are actually dreadfully dull, then you are one of those who are At War With The Mystics. This is the music for the forward thinking mofo, the sonic warrior, the tripped out hippy scum that change the face of the earth, who instead of saying no, ask the most important question of our species. "What If....?"
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wait Is Over,
For this listener at least, Flaming Lips first hit the radar with the Yoshimi... album. Since then, I've become a major fan, and looked forward to a new album most eagerly.
The wait is over, and many of the songs on 'At War With The Mystics' are becoming familiar. Opening with the jolly 'Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Song', the album is a treat from start to finish. Many of the songs are upbeat rockers (even though the lyrics can be political), but rockers of the like you will never have heard before. The slower numbers are lush, gentle songs with killer hooks (sometimes sounding not entirely unlike Prince).
So far, my favourite on the album is 'Pompeii am Gotterdamerung', a spacey epic with a thrumbing guitar rythm that puts me in mind of the Dr Who theme.
All in all, it doesn't quite have the magic of 'Yoshimi...' which will always remain one of my top ten albums. However, most bands would love to come up with music half as good as stuff the Lips trash, so this album fulfills all expectations, and then some. I just hope it won't be another three years before we get the next one.
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They've done it again...,
Okay, well I presume if you've made it this far you already know who The Flaming Lips are and how brilliant their last two albums have been. This keeps up the trend set by those masterpieces, floating majestically from joyful pop genius (Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, The W.A.N.D) to melancholy and heart-stoppingly wonderful 'serious' songs (The Sound of Failure), which are also, erm, genius. And as for the reviewer below- tails off at the end??? Did you miss Mr Ambulance Driver and Pompeii am Gotterdammerung? The Flaming Lips music has evolved to a state of such brilliance they've prety much taken off into space. Not as good as The Soft Bulletin maybe, but still pretty bloody five-star fantastic! Ahem. A round of applause please for the best band on planet Earth.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
When I first listened to this album, I really didn't like it. Like the reviewers below, I couldn't see what the fuss was about. Anyway, I was on the Tube this morning, listening to this album, when it just clicked. I confess that some of the reason for this was seeing them live a couple of weeks ago at the Wireless festival; however I can't escape the feeling that the album made perfect sense! I would buy it, give it chance, and then have many hours of happy listening.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mr Coyne have you been watching the news?,
Yoshimi was a watermark in the 'Lips' career in my humble lickle opinion. A commercial release that was bold and vivid and painted a landscape full of acid influenced imagery. (However, Sea Change by Beck which was released in the same year was also achingly beautiful and colourful in a Gram Parson's sort of way)
This album was either going to be a step forward into the twlight of commercial mediocrity or a bitter retort of a whore's game known as commercial recognition. Mystics is another different beast. It's shiney, new and sometimes veers back to 'The Soft Bulliten' in some songs and ideas but still raises it's head and shields it's eyes from the glare of the future. The opening song 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah song' is a strong if somewhat strange opener but that's the Lip's for you. A raucous, acrid sounding rabble rouser to set the mood of the album which has some political undertones and far more darker meanings that Yoshimi. The second song is clearly political (more Bush trimming) but it's so charming in a distored high pitched way and so cute in it's subject matter but steers away from the tirade of abuse a la Dixie Chicks and 'punk' outfit Green Day. The album goes all over the place which to the uninitated can be off putting but the songs are a mixture of electronic self gratification and beautiful audios that paint a picture of a supernova exploding in your mind. WAND is a strong single but it's still to different to be 'mainstream' but still good enough to be in a car commercial.
Am I bitter that the Lips are finnaly getting the success that they deserve. Maybe? but we can't live in the past and we have to move forward and once again the Lips have produced another new album and not regurgetated Yoshimi for a quick buck like most bands do. Not naming any names OASIS but you have to change in order to survive in this industry and the Lips like any animal has evolved.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars War Of The Pops,
Having been a long time fan of The Flaming Lips (since 1993's brilliant Transmissions From The Satellite Heart) I have always looked forward to their next and next albums, wondering what new direction they will take. Backstory: Of Their earlier work, Hit To Death In The Future Head (1990) still remains probably their greatest rock n pop work, this was followed by Transmissions which began to take the Lips in the direction they have been following since. Then came Clouds Taste Metallic, an under-appreciated and wonderfully conducted album. The range of instuments and their use had lessened, but the songs remained great, the lyrics unbeatable in their creativity. This was followed by their greatest work Zaireeka. I say greatest for it is their most daring and BIGGEST album they have yet made, keeping their usual lyrical tone and mixing it with instrumental power so great that if you listen to all 4 CDs at once you can seriously get lost in the dreamworld they seem to have created. The Soft Bulletin came next, and this took a little time to warm to... having followed their greatest work, it seemed like a step backward, and yet forward at the same time in that they took what they had learned from Zaireeka and mixed it with what they knew all along. Now to me it stands as a good 4* album with some great pop rythem and wierdness that exemplifies what the Lips are about now. Then Yoshimi came along, the album that really introduced the Lips to a more mainstream audience. This album zipped! I still think it's not as good as their 90's efforts, but it seemed like they were taking a new and interesting direction. It was like nothing else at the time. I was hoping for this pop-blown nuttiness to continue into War Of The Mystics, which lets face it, has been a long time coming. As initial reactions go with Lips albums, I have always been impressed, if not wholly satisfied. I listended to At War With The Mystics this morning, and appart from a few great tracks (The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song and specifically The W.A.N.D) I was very disappointed. Don't get me wrong, there is some pure Lips greatness in there, but it doesn't feel like an album. It feels like an overly long E.P. A couple of cool A-tracks, a bunch of B-sides and some tag-ons. Where was Wayne's lyrical supremeness? Samey. Opting more for repetition and for the orchestral strings to speak for the songs. And I'm sorry if everyone disagrees, but Track 2 (Free Radicals) is just awful. Stop start, stop start... just can't get my head around it. It feels like being trapped inside a computer from the 70s that is slowly breaking down. The album just reminds me of the B-sides to all the singles/E.Ps they realeased for Yoshimi, the tracks that weren't good enough to go on the album. Even some of the good tracks are diminished by their lengthy never-endingness. Sad. I hope it grows on me, I really do, but I had to listen to Transmissions on my way to work to make myself a believer again.
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychedelic 5.1!!!,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: At War With The Mystics (Audio CD)
The 5.1 mix of this record is amazing. You must take into account that it was designed to listen with the front and the back speakers of the same size and type, and the subwoofer putted in front of the central panel, with the listener in the middle of all speaker, at equal distance of each one. The sounds bounces all over from speaker to speaker, it will drive you crazy!
24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good start but seems to tail off....,
By A Customer
So it's as good as Yoshimi. No problem. It's not as good The Soft Bulletin but the chances were always slim.
If you're a Lips fan, you know what's good about them and there's plenty of it here. So I'll just go explain my main problem with this album and the reason I don't give it five stars.
It's a shame to criticise At War with the Mystics for having three amazingly strong opening tracks. They almost work as an encapsulation of The Flaming Lips' recent work. There's the happy clappy pop of 'The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song', weired-out stop-start rhythms of 'Free Radicals' and slow, beautiful song about death 'The Sound of Failure'. All truly great numbers. The problem is the rest of the album sort of merges into one long dreamy soundscape afterwards and lacks a standout track like 'Do you realise?' or 'Gash' to lift it up to a glorious crescendo.
I've given it four stars because previously the Flaming Lips always effortlessly held my attention for the full duration of their albums. With At War... even after a week of listening, I'm still not hugely familiar with anything from track four onwards. I consistently find the album has played through without me really having noticed the back end much.
I'm hoping this is a case of my own failing and that, with a bit of time and effort, the rest of these songs will become firm favourites.
I'll be interested to see what other people think.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At War with the Mystics,
At War with the Mystics - The Lips' 12th - is not the concept album the title might have you beleive. While it sees them continue to try and push the boundaries of their sound with varying degrees of success, it remains to be seen if it has the longevity of the band's previous two records. Overall the album belies a weariness and skepticism that seems at odds with their usual awe-struck playfulness, which has not gone but surfaces more sporadically and creates unusual clashes against more overtly political posturing. 'The YeahYeahYeah Song' is typically divisive, a deceptively simple and infectious ditty that you will either love or hate - I tend towards the latter camp. 'Free Radicals' enters new territory for the band, its Prince-style funk initially grates until the typically faux-naive mantra of 'You think you're radical, you're just fanatical' starts to stick. Unfortunately it feels for the first time like the band are jumping on a bandwagon - as Prince has become a fashionable reference point of late and only time will tell if this overt influence will sound like the hollow irony of Beck's Midnight Vultures in years to come. 'The Sound of Failure' is protracted prog pitched between Yoshimi and Soft Bulletin, with its mix of the organic and electronic and cheeky retro-futurist keyboard interludes. My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion follows in a similar vein, exploding into some awesome, heavily distorted guitar. 'Vein of Stars' is the closest thing the album has to a classic song, with its refrain of "maybe there isn't a vein of stars callin' out my name" echoing 'Do You Realise's deceptively dark sentiments but with less of its joyous anthemics. Its lonely contemplation that there might be 'nothin' there to see you down on your knees' nevertheless looks set to become a modern classic. The instrumental 'The Wizard Turns On' is typically tounge-in-cheek extra-terrestrial camp, while 'Mr. Ambulance Driver' brings things right back down to earth with its sirens and definitively urban landscape. The subtle shifts between bleakness and light - almost unique to the band - are particularly apparent here, in a song that could have scored Scorcese's 'Bringing out the Dead'. 'It Overtakes Me' also flirts with Prince but the production is (as elsewhere on the album) a bit too tricksy, too overtly produced, as if to mask fairly unextraordinary songwriting. When I first listened to 'The W.A.N.D.', I thought the same applied, but when you get past the exhuberant sonics, there is a monster of a track beneath, a call to arms in the mould of 'The Gash' from Soft Bulletin. 'Pompeii am Götterdämmerung' on the other hand is fairly standard prog - an overload of wishy washy synths masking a non-entity. The closer 'Goin' On', on the other hand, is pared down and personal, but suffers a little in comparison to Yoshimi's superior 'All We Have in Now', which it unmistakedly echoes. Its not an absolute classic then, but with such an inventive band you need time to let the tracks grow on you, to gain in context and meaning, which i'm sure they will.
Most Helpful First | Newest First