The Flaming Lips - The Terror (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S been a long time since The Flaming Lips did anything to match the brilliance of their most popular album, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. Sadly, latest offering The Terror means the wait continues.
Produced by long-time collaborator Dave Fridmann, the album is comprised of nine original compositions that reflect a darker-hued spectrum than previous works along with a more inward-looking lyrical perspective.
Or, as Wayne Coyne explains: “Why would we make this music that is The Terror – this bleak, disturbing record…?? I don’t really want to know the answer that I think is coming: that WE were hopeless, WE were disturbed and, I think, accepting that some things are hopeless… or letting hope in one area die so that hope can start to live in another?? Maybe this is the beginning of the answer.”
If that statement struggles to make any kind of sense, then it serves as an appropriate way to describe the album as a whole.
It is as disturbed as it is disturbing in places, erring towards the experimental and therefore patience testing.
Coyne doesn’t sing so much as chant. The astral plane the band skipped along on tracks like Do You Realize? has now turned into a bad head trip. The instrumentals are comprised of trippy humming, wired synths and throbbing drums. But there’s a lack of coherence. It’s almost as if the band’s psychedelic tendencies have been aloud to run riot.
The endurance-testing nature of the album is best exemplified during the 13-minute opus that is You Lust. Some may argue it’s music at its most challenging and provocative. Yet it’s a simple track, stretched beyond reasonable lengths for what it is… and one that disturbs by virtue of its repetitiveness.
Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die isn’t much better… lazily drifting along on swirling synths and chanted vocals. There’s a despondency to the themes, too, that’s depressing.
When Coyne laments a failure to connect on You Are Alone, the feeling is mutual. This is the most emotionally disconnected The Flaming Lips have ever been. And for every fleeting moment these tracks find something to say amid the sparsity of the actual lyrics, there just isn’t enough to hook you in and keep you focused.
The Terror may therefore be the most disappointing record of The Flaming Lips’ career. Some may call it brave and forward thinking. But that doesn’t make it worth recommending.