The Flaming Lips
Apr 11, 2013 Issue #45 - Winter 2013 - Phoenix
Listeners who turn to The Flaming Lips looking for a good time, return now from whence you came. The music included on The Terror is as nightmarish as its name would suggest. It's an apocalyptic mélange of groaning synthesizers, plodding drums, and garbled, ghostly vocals. There are lyrics about pain, death, and loneliness; there's a whole lot of industrial clanging and blurts of static. The Terror feels scary, ugly, bloated, and obtuse; it's a record that's intentionally no fun at all. Whatever high the band is on now-be it narcotic or be it natural—we're not sure we want any part of it.
Wayne Coyne's notes on The Terror cop to it being recorded during the downtime while they were off breaking world records, collaborating with Ke$ha, encasing USBs in candy, and whatever the hell else being the hardest working band in rock entails. And it sounds distracted; the songwriting is far less engaging than the artistry we know they're capable of, and everything about it—from the ceaseless synth noodling to lyrics that are more often chanted than sung—feels overly repetitive. It's not terrible; it's just very frustrating. The Terror is a record that feels high on concept, but short on songs. For all of the droning keyboard chords and muffled mumbling, would it be too much for them to eke out a couple melodies?
There was a time not so long ago when the band's off-the-wall ideas felt innovative; the social listening experience of Zaireeka may forever be one of the coolest, most experimental things released by a major label. But in recent years, the groundbreaking has given way to the gimmicky. For many fans that can do without all of the weird for weirdness' sake—us common folk, who don't necessarily need 24-hour songs released in real human skulls—it's been a frustrating half-decade. The Terror doesn't do a thing to answer our lingering question: Is this really what we should come now to expect from The Flaming Lips' music, or are they just fucking with us? It's getting hard to tell anymore. (www.flaminglips.com)
Author rating: 5/10
Average reader rating: 8/10
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