The Flaming lips: At war with the mystics

The eleventh album from the self confessed fearless freaks is so amazing it will leave you wondering how they can pull the trick off a third time following on from ‘the soft bulletin’ and ‘Yoshimi battles the pink robots’. Both of which are tour de force albums of love and loss, life and death, confusion and understanding. Mystics is no exception and continues along the same path the lips stumbled upon before, Wayne like a rock uncle is probably the only man you’d let sing to you about death and loss and still feel the utmost affection for. During the recording of this album Wayne lost his mum but Steve (multi-instrumentalist) now clean of drugs had a baby. The two opposing side of this are inevitably addressed here but with thought and passion. Its not all doom and gloom and this album has more of a fun feel to it much in the vein of say ‘They might be giants’ with voices being altered and swipes taken at both the government and celebrities amongst other more cosmic affairs. I think the most striking thing at first listen is the music’s progression the lips have no doubt been listening to lots of funk and soul which is evident in the parliament/sly and the family stone bass riffs and fluid get downs. If the soft bulletin was the album to relax to. And Yoshimi was the album to reflect/think upon this is the lips album you can dance too (if maybe a little jerkily). But this isn’t dance music despite the odd bleep and whirls of electronic noise making devices, this is still the lips doing what they have been doing for years, experimenting. They are making music, serious yet playful; the sound is very mature but also has the ability to sound childlike, fresh untarnished by the world, questioning and curious. They give the impression not only in live shows but also on the record that it is the most fun band to be in, in the whole wide world. You can just feel the love in the room as each track launches itself at you ears. I know that they didn’t have people dressed up in animal costumes in the studio but listening to the record it feels like they did. Each track from the opening to the end is filled with this sense of wonder, what will happen next? How did they make that sound? How can a twenty-year-old band still be pushing the boundaries in all the right ways? This is a fusion of the old lips sound pre-bulletin with the sound that has made the last two albums so special mixed up with a little funk and a lot of soul. Long may they keep making some of the best music in the world and continue to touch my corner of it.

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