on April 4, 2006
Being a semi-recent Flips fan I am not the best barometer to measure whether it's a 'return to roots' or 'more of the same'.
What I can say is that after many, many listenings I can honestly say it will take many more to get my head around this record.
On first listen I was ecstatically singing along to "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Song" then getting confused by the sudden turn of minimalist funk of "Free Radicals". Then the saddest ballad in the world "Sound of Failure".
The rest of the album continued to turn unexpected corners, leaving my expectations trembling and confused. Was this awful? Was this brilliant?'
The only choice was repeated listening. And it paid off. Each song is so amazingly great in its genre that it makes the following track wiggle like a worm on a hook.
Only after repeated listenings can one appreciate the gestalt of the album. It's a 12-part course of unique flavors and styles. Last week 'Free Radicals' was my favorite track. This week it's 'Sound of Failure'. Next week maybe 'Mr. Ambulance Driver' will grab me the way it's grabbed most people.
In any case, The Flaming Lips are following their own muse, and I'm happy to join the queue.
on April 11, 2006
Don't listen to me--or anyone else for that matter. Instead go to flaminglips.com, select the audio section and there you can hear every track in its entirety for free. That's what I did. And I bought the CD immediately.
how do you describe the flaming lip? 'art provacateurs?' 'cartoons?' 'experimentalists?' 'mad geniuses?' all those superlatives, and more, apply to the flaming lips. as mentioned above, coyne and co., have ditched the concept album approach in favor the more 'traditional' album (but suprisingly isn't *that* different from 'yoshimi). the result? a suprising vibrant and solid record. (their best? maybe.)
i didn't know what to expect after back-to-back genre defining albums. how do you follow up two of the better albums of the last twenty years? well, in this case, you try to top it. do they do it? yes. with 'mystics,' coyne and co. up the ante and delivered a truly great album
the beauty of 'mystics' is that channels so many past and present influences. much of 'mystics' sounds mined from 70s AM Gold radio (except in stereo). the flutes in 'the sound of failure' and 'the wizard turns on' are unexpected, yet perfect, addition. there are touches of weirdness (the sped-up vocals on 'it overtakes me,' and the sirens on 'mr. ambulance driver') and a song ('goin' on') that sounds like the perfect theme song to a 'welcome back, kotter' spin-off. lest that description scare anyone, you needn't worry--it's a brilliant song and the perfect album closer. The disco-influenced 'Mr ambulance driver' and the soporific 'pompeii...' are distant cousins to 'yoshimi's' 'in the morning of the magicians.' 'w.a.n.d.' sounds like one of queen's long-lost songs, yet is quintessentially flaming lips through and through.
the more i listen to this album, the better it gets. it really does. wayne delivers some absolutely exhilirating melodies. they aren't always immediatly evident, but they're are indeed there. dave fridman's production is stellar, as usual. as with every lips album before it, 'mystics' is an endlessly interesting listen. one gets the feeling coyne and co. will never rest on their laurels, and it's never more apparent than on 'mystics.' it's a dizzying, wonderful release from a band that twenty years in seems to be barely tapping their full creativity. thank god for the lips. highly recommended.
p.s. listen to it with headphones, repeatedly. you won't want to miss it.
on November 4, 2006
Chances are you already own At War With the Mystics. Chances are you love it. So, you're probably wondering is it worth double dipping and buying this new DVD/CD combo.
The answer is: Yes
The 5.1 mix is worth the price alone, but you also get a nice collection of bonus material. You get videos, alternate versions and even new radio sessions.
Not only do you get all of that, but you also get the album on CD. Now you can give your old copy to a friend and you not only give the gift of the Flaming Lips, but you also look like a super nice person. You can't lose!
on April 5, 2006
Well its finally happened. The Flaming Lips have met Pink Floyd head on. They have always hinted at a Floydian influence especially on the last two albums, but on this one its quite blatant on such tunes as "The Sound of Failure," "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion," "Vein of Stars," and "It Overtakes Me." "The Wizard Turns On" sounds like an updated version of "Interstellar Overdrive;" while "Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung" could be a tribute to "One of These Days."
Now just because the Lips are openly wearing their Floyd influence on their sleeve doesn't mean that this isn't original because it is. To those who don't feel it is as good or consistent as "The Soft Bulletin" or "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" I encourage you to listen to it a couple of more times. Having listened to it about three times myself I would say that it holds up well making this the third consecutive Flaming Lips masterpiece. It embraces the guitar freakouts of their earlier albums and combines them with the pyschedelic soundscapes of their more frequent work. Once the critics have caught up to this album it will likely be near the top of all the best of lists at the end of the year. The album is a sonic masterpiece and the lyrics are classic Flaming Lips but with a little bit more political fire than we normally hear. But the child like curiosity of the universe is still in tact, as well as the deeper existential questions. All in all the album is just as adventurous and exciting as a Flaming Lips album should be. It boils over with hope and optimism but it also contains shades of darkness and fear. A modern classic all the way. Nuff said.
on April 6, 2006
At War with the Mystics is clearly another triumph. 'The Sound of Failure' ALONE is worth the money. Its sad, then happy, then sublime, then eerie - but all in a subdued way that your ears will easily digest. Track 4 is beautiful, as is #5... then 6, oh man!!! What a stellar instrumental that injects the listener into a void of spaced out blips and high-tech synthesized pyschadelia - and such a mad groove it is. If only I had my own werewolf moccasins, i would dance..in a trance... with no pants
This album is like a sonic theatrical soundtrack to some science fiction drama... 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' is a great opener and 'Goin' On' is the perfect closer. It might even be the saddest, happiest and most well-written song on the album?
Where Yoshimi was more beat-driven, you may find the Mystics is more groove driven and the vast harmonies merit little need for excess boom in the bass. However you will find a fair share of their now trademarked boombox sound in tracks like 'Free Radicals' and 'The W.A.N.D."
Don't listen to it looking for the next Soft Bulletin or the next Yoshimi. Any true Lips fan knows and welcomes the element of surprise and creativity that comes w/ being a listener of their muzik. And we all know that they're not afraid to change or crawl out onto the limb of experimentation for the sake of making new sounds that melt into your mind like acid popsicle pie, mmmm. Its a slow-burn. Let it ease in and enjoy it. Pour yourself some cognac or have a couple white russians and let it overtake you, let it wake & bake you, let it master-slave you!!!!!
on January 12, 2007
I suspect most people considering purchasing this are already fans of At War with the Mystics, and probably wondering if the 5.1 dvd is worth the money, even if you have the CD. It truly is.
The sound is brilliant, the high quality surround sound really does affect the songs. Each listen you will find bits you didn't hear on the CD, in some cases because they've been 'brought forward' and in some cases because they didn't previously exist on the CD album. iI brings the whole album to life and gives all the tracks an extra depth. Tracks like "The W.A.N.D" and "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" are, unbelievably perhaps, even more fun! I think a key track on this is "Pompeii am Gotterammerdung" (forgive my spelling if I've got that wrong), which is much more intense on this CD.
The booklet also makes this a wonderful package, it's got a lot of information in it, mostly written by lead singer Wayne Coyne. There is a breakdown of each of the tracks meanings, and also a description of what's different for each track on this album in comparison to the CD, which is a really interesting little read. For example, if I remember correctly, in "Pompeii...", actual recordings of a volcano are used!?
Also worth noting is the bonus tracks, including covers and 'remixes' (or at least strange versions of known songs) although sadly most of these are not in 5.1 sound, however they are of course still high quality. Thankfully their cover of Bohemian Rhapsody is in 5.1!!
If you like the album, I would definitely recommend buying this DVD, it will be a welcome addition to your collection.
If you're considering buying the album as a first you might as well go for this package as it has the CD included also.
on April 6, 2006
As a lips fan for about 7 years I have really enjoyed thier evolution lyrically and musically, this album is no exception. Filled with hooks just as addictive as anything before, and at the same time songs that challenge the listener.
To compare this to another album I would say that it is most similar to zaireeka (when listened to properly). As a huge ween fan as well I found a lot of similarities here between this and some of weens music, with that said ween is not for everyone, so I understand people who complain about this album for its ambience and subtelty.
Just understand negative reviewers that the same reasons some of you dislike this album makes others like it even more.
on April 10, 2007
my brother and his wife & kids were over. we were all playing some darts in the basement. there was an accident. a dart struck my head. stuck right in it, in fact. stuck in deep. in some important artery or something. i tried pulling it out while everyone screamed, but i passed out before i could succeed. i came to in a hospital bed, alone and scared, and kind of disoriented. then from down the hospital corridor i heard some music. really good stuff. a nurse entered my room. "nurse," i said, "what's that music playing?" she smiled and replied, "oh, that's the new flaming lips cd." i smiled, too. i knew that everything was going to be okay.
on July 12, 2006
On first listen, this was very dissapointing after "Yoshimi"...but that was one of my favorite albums of all time, so that's not necessarily saying much.
"The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" is overrated...cliche...forced...a bad way to start this album. I really do love the music and Coyne's vocal ability here, but the lyrics are some of their most preachy (which, despite my love of this band, is saying something) and the Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah every 5 seconds is really annoying and interrupts the flow of the song. Has a classic Lips sound but it just misses the mark in my opinion.
The next 4 songs are pretty incongruous and don't do much for me. "Free Radicals" has AWFUL lyrics and it sounds like a repetitive mock-up of a Scissor Sisters song. "Sound of Failure" is OK but nothing special, kind of a lesser version of some of the things they did on their previous two albums. As a man experienced in the existential dilemmas posed by psychedelic drugs, I loved the title of the 4th song, and was hoping for something inspiring and empowering, but was left sorely dissapointed by a monotonous and overly sappy song.
By the end of the 5th mediocre song, "Vein of Stars," I was thinking, "Is it possible the Flaming Lips actually made an album without a single above-average song?" Then "The Wizard Turns On" came on and although it's not their best, my question was instantly answered, and really from there on the album gets pretty good. "Wizard" is an instrumental song that doesn't rock your socks off but is an interesting listen and it just gave off the feel that something good was on its way in the next few tracks.
"It Overtakes Me" is a good song, unfortunately tarnished by a lame sounding repetition of those three words at the beginning, along with some forced rhymes ("it master-slaves me", "it wakes and bakes me"...come on, u can do better than that!). Again, nothing amazing here but a decent song that didn't kill my vibe from the previous track.
"Mr Ambulance Driver" was ok, again sustaining but not advancing my interest in the album. Though it sounds like they're singing in some backwater Vegas lounge, it's relaxing and a pleasant soft listen.
Here is where things turned the corner. "Haven't Got a Clue" the 9th track has a great beat and sound and the lyrics (unlike most of the other songs on this album) don't detract from the overall solid musical experience. Still not anything like the better songs from "Yoshimi" but something fresh and entertaining that any Lips fan could enjoy.
Next came "The W.A.N.D." and I finally got something to rock out to. This song starts strong and keeps it up. This is classic Lips. Of the two singles on this album, this is by far the superior and this will be on my ipod for a long time. This is really the only song on this album I'd suggest for inclusion on a "Best of" Lips record.
LOVED "Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung", though I could see some people not agreeing. It sounds like a theme song for an RPG on Playstation, but its got legs and has a very uplifting feel. This might be my favorite song on the album, the point at which I declared this album a success and worth my money. Another one that will be on the ipod.
"Goin' On" finished the album strong, the third straight great track that lives up to the expectations I have from the Lips. Not as good as the previous two, but very enjoyable and a bit more 60's-ish, with a good message and decent lyrics with good vocals to accompany a calm flowing musical background. I would have ended the album with "Pompeii" but I can see why they picked this track.
Overall, a good album, but dissapointing if ur looking for something to equal "Yoshimi" or "The Soft Bulletin". Do not use this as a CD to introduce someone new to the Lips. But, it would certainly be welcome in any fan's collection. Not quite strong enough to stand on its own for somebody without previous attachments to this band. 3.5 out of 5.