The Flaming Lips
(Warner Bros. Records)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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The Flaming Lips return with one of their most challenging, yet cohesive records to date. The Terror, the band’s 13th studio album, comes at the heels of an experimental period for the band, which saw them do everything from writing a 24 hour song, to releasing their music in the form of marijuana flavored gummy brains, not to mention teaming up with everyone from Bon Iver to Ke$ha for a collaborative record. The band’s first proper studio album since 2009’s Embryonic, The Terror serves as a return to form in many ways.
If one thing can be said about the album, it is that it is an album in the classic sense, the same way The Dark Side Of The Moon or In the Court of the Crimson King are (both albums the band has not-so-coincidentally reworked in recent years). The tracks seamlessly feed into each other, giving the album an enveloping intensity that builds to the end. This is good in that it encourages listeners to experience the work as a whole, but potentially frustrating for casual listening.
Perhaps that can’t be helped though; with its bleak subject matter and moody, downbeat brand of psychedelia, The Terror is anything but a casual listening experience. From the industrial-tinged opening track “Look… The Sun Is Rising,” the listener is thrust into desolation and romantic despair. “Love is always something / something you should fear / when you really listen / fear is all you hear,” frontman Wayne Coyne sings. This theme of lost love and abandonment runs through the record, which Coyne perfectly vocalizes in his shrill, fractured voice. By the end of the album, you start to worry that perhaps Coyne is feeling this terror he is singing about.
For his sake, let’s hope not.