Ah, yes, another year, another Flaming Lips album.
Well, I guess that’s not true. Last year gave us the Heady Fwends mega-collaboration album, but the Lips don’t release a full-length every year. They have all kinds of strange releases on their resume, but The Terror feels like their first proper full-length since 2009’s excellent Embryonic. Vocalist Wayne Coyne called it “bleak and disturbing”, but the first song we heard was the lively “Sun Blows Up Today”.
The Terror is a bit more bleak than some other Lips music, but it’s nothing particularly depressive. Dark seems to be a bit more accurate. I will say that it’s very far from At War With the Mystics. It’s in the vein of their noisier work. There’s a familiarity here, with a good bit of synths and some krautrock influence.
But at its core, The Flaming Lips are never going to make music that’s going to straight up hurt your feelings. The band has too much positive mojo going for them, and that does its best to break through here. We get all kinds of pulsating rhythms here, like on the 13-minute “You Lust”, and they’re just as densely layered as you’d expect from Steven Drozd. There aren’t really any standout tracks, much as there isn’t anything that would be played on your local alternative rock station in your wildest dreams. Bonus track “Sun Blows Up Today” is about as close as you’ll get, with its sort of surf rock vibe, but there is no “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” here.
And I think that the band is all the better for it. Wayne Coyne can certainly front a pop song, but I love when The Flaming Lips really get down to experimenting like they did on Embryonic. You can keep your Soft Bulletin comparisons on hold, but this album is a lot of fun if this is your kind of music.