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The Flaming Lips
At War with the Mystics
Warner Bros.

For some reason I’d like to preface my review of The Flaming Lips’ At War with the Mystics by disclosing my preference for Clouds Taste Metallic and Transmissions from the Satellite Heart to the band’s more critically acclaimed follow ups, The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.  And while I love Wayne Coyne’s showmanship and the circus atmosphere of the band’s live shows, I sometimes worry the songs themselves get overshadowed by the surrounding hoopla and the production they receive in the studio.

Of course, At War with the Mystics is unlike any of the aforementioned albums.  The production is distinctly top-of-the-line as usual, but with a bent to bring a more retro, rather than polished, sound. Songs like “Free Radicals” and “It Overtakes Me” are steeped in Sly-and-the-Family-Stone, 70’s-style funk, while a number of others, like “The Wizard Turns On” and “Pompei Am Gotterdammerung” cultivate a Lips-branded form of psychedelia.  As the title indicates, the songs are generally constructed as idea battles against extreme religious fundies on all sides—including those who reside in the White House.  And while the lyrics themselves seem a bit immature in addressing such themes, most of the fun is in the battle itself.  And, when it comes to fun, The Flaming Lips are nonpareil. 

Favorite Track: Track 11, “Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung”

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Roland Goity is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and freelance business pieces.  His background includes marketing and promotion in the music industry and an inability to capably play his guitar no matter how hard he practices.  He can be reached at or at his web site


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