Flaming Lips- At War With The Mystics (Warner Brothers)
review by Jim Clark

Track Listing

1. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
2. Free Radicals
3. The Sound Of Failure/It’s Dark…Is It Always This Dark?
4. My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion
5. Vein Of Stars
6. The Wizard Turns On... The Giant Silver Flashlight and Puts on His Werewolf Moccasins
7. It Overtakes Me/The Stars Are So Big... I Am So Small... Do I Stand a Chance?
8. Mr. Ambulance Driver
9. Haven’t Got A Clue
10. The W.A.N.D.
11. Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung
12. Goin’ On



The Flaming Lips have made a career out of being weird. But a funny thing happened to this band from Oklahoma – they’ve managed to become quite successful. Their latest release, At War With The Mystics, has even charted in the top 20.

The Flaming Lips had a tough task in following up their previous two brilliant releases – The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. And compared to those two releases, At War With The Mystics falls short.

All the weirdness is still here as is the usual excellent production, and the band has thrown in a lot more guitars reminiscent of its pre-Soft Bulletin releases, but in the end, it’s just a good, not great, disc.

But I guess that speaks about how high the Lips have risen – that brilliance is expected from them on every disc. That’s part of the problem with releasing albums as good as The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi…, and that is, how on earth do you follow them up? The Lips deserve credit for trying some new things, and the songs are quite solid. Lead singer Wayne Coyne has ventured lyrically, penning some unusually political lyrics by Flaming Lips standards. While a song like “Haven’t Got A Clue” seems to call out a particular world leader, “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” asks if you or me would do any better in their situation. Changing tone a bit, on “The Sound Of Failure/It’s Dark…Is It Always This Dark,” Coyne questions the phony happy songs of useless pop icons Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani. So lyrically, Coyne shows that he is a very intelligent and deft lyricist with some ambiguity and his usual bizarre and humorous words.

Musically, a lot of the disc has a sort of funky, 70’s vibe. Electric piano is used frequently, as are some wah-wah and talk-box guitars, all quite enjoyable. But despite this and the strong words, no songs really jump out in the way that “Do You Realize?” or “Fight Test” did from Yoshimi or “Race For The Prize” or “Waitin’ For A Superman” did from Soft Bulletin.

“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” is a song that I like while simultaneously wanting to stick a pencil through my eardrum as the repeated “yeah yeah yeah’s” can grow tedious. And the production effect at the start of “The W.A.N.D.” may make you think that you have a faulty disc. Probably the two songs that I enjoy the most are “Mr. Ambulance Driver,” a definite 70’s throwback, and the closing “Goin’ On.”

All of this said, At War With The Mystics is definitely a grower, a sign of any good disc. When I first listened to it, I thought “what the hell is this?” But now, I really do enjoy a lot of the disc. Just not as much as the last two.

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