Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Album Review: The Flaming Lips -The Terror

The Flaming Lips
The Terror
** out of *****

With the bands last effort Embryonic The Flaming Lips mashed up sound pulses and whirring electro clicks into a messy soup that never really gelled. That idea of a strung together jumbled mess seems to be sticking with the band as The Terror continues the trend of just one long thought augmented by odd sounds and eerie vocals. Turns out this time around though things are even less interesting with tracks getting bogged down in repetitive sinkholes.  

Opening with "Look..The Sun Is Rising" the track contains a scratching and scraping in the foreground with falsetto "ooh's and aah's" struggling to be heard behind the chaos, a trend that continues throughout.  Figuring out what instruments, computer programs, electronics or sound effects are employed is impossible; there are zero guitar/drum/bass songs here and forget about a memorable single.

"Be Free, A Way" pulses with positive energy before drifting directly into questioning vibrations of "Try To Explain".  Wayne Coyne has talked about this being his drug album and (perhaps in a good way for Coyne) it isn't as dark as one might expect, just a bit dull.

"You Lust" is the mid piece of the album clocking in at over 13 minutes with steam valve time keeping and meandering sounds.  It has a touch of "The End" to it, but mostly "You Lust" just circles about not really going anywhere exciting. "The Terror" possesses a dance beat behind swirling vocals and sounds making it one of the more interesting tracks along with "Butterly, How Long it Takes to Die" and "Turning Violent".

The closing "Always There...In Our Hearts" finally manages to mix up the tempo with some industrial sounds rising high but it's simply too little too late to save The Terror as a whole.
We have loved the Flaming Lips since we saw them rock out on the second stage of Lollapalloza 94. As we mentioned in our 100 Best Albums of 00's the group is probably the most unlikely success story (this side of ICP, but that discussion is for another day) that is out there.  We were very underwhelmed/disappointed with the groups last release so we were cautious about this one.  By the way, I am not pissed at myself years later for not loving Embryonic turns out I was right. 

The Terror is a complete flowing work but not one that is overly impressive. In fact it reminds us a lot of Embryonic and is a bit duller overall.  Doubt we go back to this one in two years and love it either, and could easily see it landing on our disappointing list come year end. On the plus side the band can still kick major ass live.

You can grab the album here, you can stream it currently over at NPR for a limited time and you can peep some video samples below:
"Look...The Sun is Rising" Live on Letterman:

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