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on 20 April 2015
Good music as you would expect from The Flaming Lips,
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on 18 March 2007
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.
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The Flaming Lips are back at last.
The most lovable rockers in the world have returned, in "At War with the Mystics." This isn't a concept album like their previous one; instead, it's the Lips doing the kind of wonky psychedelica that they do better than anyone else. It's joyous, riotous and wonderfully bizarre.
It opens with a trio of songs that sit on the border between catchy and psychedelic: a cheery little opener that asks some important questions, ("If you could make everybody poor/just so you could be poor/would you do it?... With all your powers, what would you do?"), a guitar-grinder that bashes a "poor man's Donald Trump," and slips into shimmering, murky pop.
Then the Lips take a trip into more experimental places, and the results are breathtakingly beautiful. They fill the delicate songs with fluttering electronica, bittersweet songwriting, and epic soundscapes. It reaches a peak with "The Wizard Turns On...," a sort of Floydian journey song.
Then it's back to to the less ethereal stuff. A soft psychedelic tune with a siren, a shuddering rock tune, and fuzz-rocker. "Time after time those fanatical minds try to rule all the world/Telling us all it's them who's in charge of it all!" Wayne Coyne sings in "W.A.N.D," arguably one of the best songs of the album.
"At War with the Mystics" is like being stuck in a colourful time warp -- the Lips explore their softer, psychedelic music, and mash it together with their older fuzz-rock/punk stuff. Anyone expecting "The Soft Bulletin II" or "Yoshimi: The Sequel" will be disappointed, but someone expecting some lovable rock will adore it.
It does have one flaw: unevenness. The album has two different styles, and those styles are flipped to and fro, sometimes with no warning. But despite that, it's exuberant, complex and completely weird. Fuzz rock, prog, psychedelic sweeps, flutes and sparkling melodies are all woven together into a dizzying tapestry.
Wayne Coyne is the heart and soul of all this music, with his slightly off-key voice. And he's the perfect man to go on this musical journey -- cheery and upbeat at first, but then he becomes more introspective, looking over the "fanatical minds" and greedy people, before deciding that "we're getting near it/I know I really fear it/let's pretend it's just another day..."
It's a credit to the Flaming Lips that through a long career (and different levels of fame), they've managed to keep that innocent enthusiasm. And "At War With the Mystics" just keeps up with the love.
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on 22 April 2006
For once, people should believe the hype- this album is fantastic. It is quintessential Flaming Lips, managing to marry Pink Floyd type psychedelia and musicality (in places, it sounds like "Dark Side" rewritten for the 21st century) with (I know this sounds a sin for music snobs) catchy and beautiful pop/rock, which would make Coldplay jeolous. The usual themes and styles are all here- simple lyrics about life/death married with lavish production, combining to create an album of incredible warmth and beauty and one which (despite the cliche) really does reward repeated listening. Most people will be blown away on first listen by the more instant tracks, such as "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song", "Free Radicals" and "the WAND" but, after a few listens, it is the less obvious songs like "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion" and "Pompeii" that really strike a chord.

I have seen a number of reviews in which this album is compared unfavouarbly with the two that preceded it- Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi. For me, "Mystics" is more organic and warm than Yoshimi (the critics who complain about the indulgence of "The Wizard Turns On" here seem to have forgotten all about "Yoshimi Part 2" and seem to think that the last album consisted of 11 tracks all like "Do You Realise?") and, whilst I would agree that it is not as great as "The Soft Bulletin" (which, incidentally, is available from Amazon for less than a fiver, an absolute steal), that is an unfavourable comparison only in the sense that "Sgt Peppers..." is not as good as "Revolver". Furthermore, whilst I would agree that it is not the most immediate of albums, you have to ask yourself whether a great album is one that you can get into straight away; after all, on that test, "OK Computer" and "Nevermind" lag- for me, at least- well behind "Back to Bedlam" and "Hopes and Fears" and I know which albums are more likely to stand the test of time.

It may be that I have become jaded by the bizarre and unwarranted hype placed on bands like the Arctic Monkeys and albums like "X and Y" but I honestly believe that "At War with the Mystics" will ultimately be another in a mere handful of albums in my collection that I will return to, and be proud to own, a decade and more from now.
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on 3 April 2006
You know that thing that criminals shout to vigilantes when they're being loaded into the back of a police car?
"You've won the battle but you've lost the war..."
The implication is that Wars are much more important and serious than battles. In short, they're bigger.
True to this notion, "At War With The Mystics" is much much much bigger than "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots". It's huge. No words are too hyperbolic to describe this, it really is immense.
I'm not sure how they've managed it, but with twelve albums under their belt they still manage to pull off a masterpiece that sounds like nothing else that has ever come before. Usually with bands with such extensive back catalogues the temptation is to compare the latest offering to its predecessors. Amazingly it's possible to listen to "At War..." without thinking of any previous 'Flips albums, not even The Soft Bulletin. I'm not saying that it's better per se...I'm not even suggesting that it's massively different...I'm just saying that it's impossible not to judge this on its own merits, and oh...it has merits!
Even though the use of more organic/analogue instruments hails back to the days of "Hit to Death" and "Transmissions", this will always be grouped with "Yoshimi" and "The Soft Bulletin", as part of a trilogy. Newcomers (those that only got into them in the past five years) have absolutely nothing to fear. It's every bit as symphonic/polyphonic as those two classic albums we've grown to love. "Space Jazz" is an apposite description. It's melodic AND experimental, cosmic yet down to earth, accessible yet...it truly sounds like a step forward. There's so much going on in each song that the listening experience is never a boring one. Music is indeed interesting again. We're back in the realm of music that soundtracks your dreams and fantasies rather than your alcahol soaked nights out.
With twelve masterpieces it is not fair to single out key tracks, yet The Sounds Of Failure, My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion, The Wizard Turns On and Haven't Got A Clue tend to lodge themself into the conciousness long after the album's grinded to a halt.
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As someone who loved The Soft Bulletin but failed to be entirely seduced by Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, I approached this album with cautious interest. The Flaming Lips are a band blessed with obvious eccentric talent, but often do not channel it in the most effective way... well, this time they certainly did. This is a consistently good album and probably their most complete piece of work to date. There are fantastic album tracks such as The Sounds Of Failure and My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion and moments of pure pop joy like It Overtakes Me which would have been show-stoppers on their last two albums, but they instead feel like texturally-rich, thoroughly enjoyable, well-crafted pieces of a rather splendid and colourful jigsaw.

It falls short of being dubbed a masterpiece, however, because of a few pedestrian tracks which the album could probably have lived without, such as Mr. Ambulance Driver and Haven't Got A Clue, giving At War With The Mystics an unfortunate mid-album lull. The album finishes strongly with the bizarrely titled Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung and Goin' On - one of the most straight forward songs The Flaming Lips have ever released and, stripped of all their bombast and electronic backdrop, they sound very pleasant indeed. For me this is one of the surprise packages of the year - a consistent Flaming Lips album which generally only pleases and doesn't particularly frustrate.
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on 4 June 2013
At War With The Mystics may just be The Flaming Lips most mis-understood album yet. Criticism towards it points out that it feels dis-jointed, has weaker lyrical content and sounds like a bunch of random ideas thrown together. I disagree. This album carries on where Yoshimi left off but has a more fun, upbeat, psychedelic feel to it. Admittedly the lyrics on some of the songs (The W.A.N.D, It Overtakes Me, Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, Haven't Got A Clue) aren't Wayne Coyne at his genius best but are by no means weak and still manage to come across as very memorable pop songs that have earned the band many new fans and rightly so. Thats not to say the band have completely left behind the more melancholic sound they are better known for - see tracks like The Sound Of Failure, Vein Of Stars, My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion and the end of It Overtakes Me, which although different in terms of overall sound are cut from the same cloth as the previous 2 albums. AWWTM gets more and more rewarding with every listen just like most Lips albums. Its more varied than anything else they have done but when listened to from start to finish is a very enjoyable listen that changes in the right places, has extreme highs and lows & despite having many different influences is very much The Flaming Lips all the way through.
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on 21 December 2006
Well, probably not. It's still amazing but after buying all 3 5.1 LP's at the same time this was the last to be put on and something of a dissappointment after the other 2. The sounds don't whirl around in quite the same way, they're more static although still wonderful. Also the visualiser is a psychedelic naked dancing woman which is not only substandard compared to the coloured blobs of the other 2 lp's, it also got on the Mrs nerves which doesn't help. Lets face it, if I had to watch a dancing naked man, I'd be less enthused.

The extras are good and their version of Bohemian Rhapsody has to be heard to be believed. How can a band cover something so faithfully yet make it so much more bonkers? I saw them recently and expecting War Pigs to be covered was treated with this song. Never have I been more happier.

Anyway, its still essential but if i had to put them in order of preference (without referring to how much I like the LPs, more based on the experience) it would be Yoshimi first, then soft bulletin, then this.

I've never been able to pick my favourite stereo LP though so perhaps fans should go for the one they like best.
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on 5 April 2006
Yes they have done it again. Either Wayne Coyne et al have designed this album to cash in on enlightened libertarian angst or they really are enlightened libertarians. I have no doubt the later is true.
But lyrics aside, the music is catchy yet challenging in a way few groups have been able to achieve. There's high production values as well as quite refined songcraft and the result is a pleasing album that so far has got better every time I have listened to it. In a business that seems hell-bent on feeding 'music fans' insufferable quest for 'the next great band' I personally feel The Lips justify a certain amount optimism that there is still room for staying power. From the acapella's of the opening track to almost McCartney-esque finale there's no real weakspot in my opinion. This is music for people with open minds and it asks us to face our mortality with a knowing smile. Buy it.
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VINE VOICEon 4 July 2006
Great band, great songs but above all great sound. This band sound like no other, even though it reminds you of great bands from the 60s and 70s, they seem to take bits and pieces from so many places mixing them together creating this fantastic modern style.

The band ensemble is so great it takes you the beach boys, to the band, Dylan but released in 2006.
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