With unsurpassed longevity within their vein in the world of rock, The Flaming Lips have just released their 11th album, At War With the Mystics. After decades on the music scene, these Okalahoma natives have been grouped under numerous genres ranging from psychedelic folk to alternative rock. It is through this constant changing and ever- evolving writing style that the group has been around for as long as they have. With singles ranging from the mid ’90s hit “She Don’t Use Jelly,” to the conceptual album of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: it is quite easy for one to see why the Lips are adored by so many.
While At War With the Mystics is not as experimental as their Zaireeka album, which needed all four discs to be played simultaneously, it holds its own within the Flaming Lips catalogue and has some extraordinary moments on such tunes as, “The Wizard Turns On…,” “The W.A.N.D.,” “Haven’t Got a Clue,” and the first single from the album, “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song.”
A newfound political stance is also apparent on this new record, most notably in the lyrics of the “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song.” A repeated refrain of the lone line, “With all your power, what would you do?” seems a direct stab at the current Bush administration. This is exemplified even more so in the music video, in which random citizens are abducted and covered in greasy breakfast sandwiches, doughnuts or red meat and then chased down either by construction workers, cops or a wolf man type creature. All the while the pervading theme of a blissfully unaware and increasingly heavier single-minded America making political comments from the peanut gallery shines through. And while at first glance the “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” seems a stinging critique of President Bush, upon reading deeper it becomes evident that The Lips also make the claim that “We cannot know ourselves what we’d really do, with all our power,” harping on the old saying that hindsight is always 20-20 and no one really knows another man’s life without walking a mile in his shoes. This is by far the most “poppy” song on the album, however pop is never what The Flaming Lips have been about and the rest of the album contains countless minutes of quality.
With some very Arcade Fire-esc feel good songs and a few ambient tunes that have the ability of firing one back into 1965, At War With the Mystics comes up huge. This is without a doubt an album that grows on the listener and burrows deep. It also serves as excellent background music for any sort of friendly get together or straight up wasted party. Good for those who crunch granola, enjoy the indie scene or just love good tunes. All around spectacular record with it’s only possible detractor being the popped collar Top 10 crowd, but who wants them for fans anyway. I give it an 8.5 out of 10.