For me the Flaming Lips are hit or miss: I love Transmissions from the Satellite Heart; my enjoyment of The Soft Bulletin didn’t last past the first couple listens; over ten years on Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is still one of my favorite pop albums; since then I haven’t really been able to get with anything the band has done, until now, because I really, really, really like their new one, entitled The Terror.
After my first few listens what I like best about the album is the variety of textures and the sonic tapestries the band creates and the overall atmosphere and effect it creates. The songs are washed in layers of various electronic effects, fuzzy white noise, synth lines, ostinato patterns, siren figures, drones. Subtle grooves, melodies and colors waft in and out. But for all the complexity and polyphonic textures, the music never sounds muddy. Much of the music could fit right in with a science fiction movie soundtrack.
Wayne Coyne’s vocals are bathed in reverb, and often float over the swirling electronics – especially on the very eery “Try to Explain.” The album’s centerpiece is the thirteen minute “You Lust.” The band rides a steady groove with slightly changing parts for several minutes in the song’s mid section, and it’s here where one can feel like the music has the power to put one in a trance. In fact it’s the music’s trance-like quality throughout the album, of which the thick and churning washes of processed sound, tight grooves, and tracks that segue into each other contribute to the album’s effectiveness. The album invites the listener in, convincing him or her to dive in and not only accept, but to embrace the terror.