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Friday, April 21, 2006


The Flaming Lips "At War With the Mystics"

Forget the supposed return to "rock" -- Wayne Coyne and his merry pranksters of indie-dom are as inscrutable as ever on "At War With the Mystics," the Oklahoma-based band's first album in four years. Although they've abandoned the concept-album approach that colored their previous releases, 1999's breakthrough album "The Soft Bulletin" and their biggest-seller "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" (2002), the Lips still take on many of the Big Themes explored on those two albums.

The Flaming Lips are known for their extravagant production values and in this respect, "At War With the Mystics" doesn't disappoint. They play around with a variety of sounds, creating murky, spacey, goofy noises and glitches, except for "The W.A.N.D.", which is more primal, driven by a heavy guitar riff worthy of The Stooges. Lead singer Coyne obviously had a good time stretching his vocal range, especially when he hits the Prince-like highs on "Free Radicals."

Interesting and enjoyable for sure, but hardly the masterpiece that they have proven capable of producing in the past.

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