Do you realize it's summertime? So celebrate the sunshine with the optimisic and philosophical spirit of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, The Flaming Lips' long-awaited follow-up to 1999's The Soft Bulletin, which topped an avalanche of year-end "best of" lists and helped rank the psychedelic-noise-popsters among the most influential bands in the world (#15 according to NME). "It's storytelling acid rock," say The Flaming Lips, "and will render its listeners powerless to study or analyze it and enable them to sit back and--hopefully for a couple of minutes at a time--just simply be...entertained."
As these dimpled moptops from Oklahoma grow pepper-bearded and transform into wizened elder statesmen of sonic adventuring, the heartfelt candy of their loving bubblegum stretches ever longer into echoing soundscapes. If Radiohead
are halfway to becoming U2
, the Flaming Lips are nine-tenths of the way to pop nirvana
. Hardly a song on Yoshimi isn't resonated, echoed, and reverberated--floating the listener higher until they have the ultimate bird's-eye view of what makes a great band tick. As with any album by the band, it's hard not to imagine parades and a sky filled with helium balloons while you listen to any of it--in this case, the party is enhanced brilliantly by digital filters and silver shimmering asides. The most immediate songs, like "One More Robot (3000-21)," are digital (almost trip-hop) dance numbers that lift the band out of the cornfields and into the loopy land of Björk
. Little surprise, then, that the band are already following up this majestic splash of gummy bear brilliance by recording a CD with kids' TV show host Steve from Blue's Clues
. It's like Woodstock meets Snoopy! --Ian Christe