Sunday, September 19, 2010

At War With The Mystics

“If you could blow up the world with the flick of a switch/Would you do it?” 

Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe that the beginnings of a Flaming Lips backlash is upon us all. Many critics when reviewing At War With The Mystics point to the opening “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” as a sign that powers of the Flaming Lips is now in decline. Sure, it’s cheesy to the nth degree but deceptively so with a melodic structure that even Paul McCartney might chaff at but contains lyrics that John Lennon himself would have been proud to pen. No one sugar coats a protest song better than the Flaming Lips!

The funky “Free Radicals” takes a pot shot at someone with a bad attitude and who would not last without his (or her) bodyguards (anyone you might know?) “The Sound of Failure” is an apologetic exercise in soft pop dynamics – “So go tell Britney and go tell Gwen/She’s not trying to go against all of them” being particularly cryptic yet knowing. To these ears, the Lips muse is still alive and kicking…and add the space age pastoral hymn that is “My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion,” the catchy cry for help that is “It Overtakes Me/The Stars Are So Big I Am So Small…Do I Stand A Chance?” and the closing hopeful ballad that is “Goin’ On” to the overall goodness and what one gets is a great Flaming Lips album.

Perhaps what has irritated these critics is the subtle shift into more familiar prog rock stylings that can be found on mainly instrumental tracks like “The Wizard Turns On…” and “Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung.” Too bad. As far as I am concerned, the Flaming Lips are now a law unto themselves and whilst At War With The Mystics  never holds a candle to The Soft Bulletin and we all expected them going in but together with Yoshimi Battles the Red Robots, indicates that the Flaming Lips will not simply fade into the psychedelic-coloured sunset. A

(This review was published in 2006)

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