Cosmic, consciousness-expanding and mind-shattering, At War With The Mystics, the highly anticipated follow-up to The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots brings together the expressiveness of recent albums with the heaviness, volume and intensity of the band's earlier work. At War With The Mystics is personal, political, psychedelic and powerful pop. Warner. 2006.
After two expansive yet winsome epic albums like The Soft Bulletin
and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
that dealt with the inevitability of death in the face of life, the Oklahoma City art provocateurs have abandoned the concept album approach and done an about face. They've returned to their earlier canon, channeling their messy psychedelica through a 70s funk scrim, and yet again figured out a way to elevate the ordinary to the sublime--even out-weirding Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd on a track like "Pompeii," and precariously balancing out on the astral plane on "Wizard Turns On." And while you might be tempted to believe that this band is just about their cartoonish space bubbles on pink rabbits, it is at your own peril. At War With the Mystics
is an intelligent and searing indictment of George W. Bush, his administration, suicide bombers, superficiality and undeserved stardom--branding them all sinners of similar stripe. A song like "Sound of Failure/It's Dark...Is it Always This Dark?" boldly calls out pop culture princesses Gwen Stefani and Britney Spears, but not without first giving them a wet kiss goodnight. "Free Radicals" is a precious soul romp that sounds like Prince in his prime, but instead was oddly inspired by a dream about Devendra Banhart, and is an sharp arrow aimed straight at the heart of would-be terrorists. Major domo and head Lip Wayne Coyne is a shrewd observer of human nature, and an even shrewder songwriter and this album stands as his greatest and most varied work yet. --Jaan Uhelszki