If you wanted to see Yoshimi back in the ring for another round with those pink...
Richard Banks 2002-11-20
In every sense, At War With The Mystics is the Flaming Lips' biggest release to date. But if you wanted to see Yoshimi back in the ring for another round with those pink robots, think again; this is no rematch.
Under the wing of resident producer Dave Fridmann, the band's penchant for stargazing soundscapes gets explored more fully than ever before. In fact, "The Wizard Turns On..." isn't so much a song as a sci-fi SFX reel. But the Flaming Lips always manage to bring things down to Earth with a pop.
Album opener "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" is typicallydisposable, but utterly addictive.Coyne's falsetto on the funk-driven "Free Radicals" takes him to the dodgy ground between Beck and Prince. Thankfully, he quickly redeems himself on "Vein Of Stars" and "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion".
At War... shines brightest when the lyrics take a back seat, bringing Fridmann's genius and the band's sonic imagination to the fore. There's no denying the prog-rock brilliance of "The W.A.N.D." and "Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung", but these two gems sit rather uncomfortably within the album's hotchpotch of sounds and styles. If Yoshimi's cutesy existentialism drew new legions of fans to the Lips, At War's incoherence will inevitably divide them.