Who would have thought that the dudes who created the disturbingly catchy She Don’t Use Jelly would still be around making music more than a decade later? But somehow The Flaming Lips have made a career out of weird psychedelic music even if Jelly remains their only true hit. But that’s not to say there isn’t another surprise hit hiding somewhere on their latest outing At War with the Mystics.
Okay, who am I kidding, there is no hits hiding on this album, but to the Lips credit, that’s not why they make music and of course just because there are no hits doesn’t necessarily make something a bad album. Sonically, the album I exactly what you would expect from a Lips albums they inch closer and closer to the sound of early Pink Floyd when eccentric Syd Barrett was at the helm. They even throw in an instrumental, The Wizard Turns On, which could have made it on one of Floyd’s album. But they extra noise isn’t always welcome like on Mr. Ambulance Driver where the band utilizes a siren for most of the song which made me look out the window every couple seconds to make sure it wasn’t real.
But it’s the lyrics where the band evolves the most as they morph into a socially conscience band. The set the tone with the opener, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song which asks rhetorical questions like, “If you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich, would you do it?” Then they follow those up with the cautionary, “It's a very dangerous thing to do exactly what you want.” They also take aim at our government during The W.A.N.D. where they equate the power of fanatical leaders to them waving a magical wand. But it’s Haven’t Got a Clue really lays the smackdown with the not so thinly veiled reference to President capped off with the lyrics, “Every time you state you case, the more I want to punch your face.” Although I think I’d have my money on Bush in a throw down with Wayne Coyne. Superficial pop starts are also called out on Sound of Failure/It's Dark...Is it Always This Dark? specifically Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani.
And Wayne’s voice still remains the main problem with the group. With everything going on musically, his anemic voice tends to bring the songs down and is always the weak link. The only time he shines on this album is when he goes all Prince falsetto on Free Radical. But it’s not enough to save the mediocre at best album.
Song to Download - My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion
At War with the Mystics gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.