The Flaming Lips Are at War

Based on this extensive breakdown of the upcoming Flaming Lips record, At War With the Mystics, courtesy of Mr. Wayne Coyne himself, I think it’s safe to assume at least two things.

First, the Flaming Lips are just as fond of long, obtuse, song titles that seem whimsical and precocious at first glance but upon a deeper look might actually be quite meaningful and sincere (as well as whimsical and precocious). Right now, my fave would have to be “My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion (The Inner Life As Blazing Shield of Defiance and Optimism As Celestial Spear of Action).” Eat your heart out, Sufjan…

Second, based on Coyne’s track descriptions, this album is going to be a lot heavier, musically and conceptually, than the Lips’ last album, 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, and that’s just fine with me. I think I might be the only one who was left feeling very underwhelmed by Yoshimi…, but in my mind, it’s a far, far inferior record to the emotional and musical juggernaut that was The Soft Bulletin.

A lot of stuff appears to be happening in At War With the Mystics’ songs: wrestling with death and society’s attempts to numb and ignore suffering, existential longing and despair, trying to find a place in the grand cosmic scope, terrorism, and of course, a few digs at the current administration. For example, look at what Coyne has to say about a track titled “Vein of Stars” (for some reason, I just love the song title alone):

My intention was to sing something cosmic about how humans have (as science reveals more and more about the nature of time and space) been abandoned by the stars… But I believe, once we finished it (the song and its production), it seemed to convey just the opposite… That almost despite science we are connected to the stars… Because we love to look at them, we hope maybe they love to look at us…

Or his comments about “The Sound of Failure”:

And so this song… is about a young girl whose best friend has died, and everywhere she goes… she must endure the empty optimism of the inexperienced. She wants to know, since it has arrived, what is despair, what is hope, what is failure… And what is in the darkness?? …she just doesn’t want to pretend that she understands what she doesn’t really understand — what death is… what despair is… what existential fear is… She doesn’t know, but she’s starting to find out…

Consider me intrigued. The new Flaming Lips just went up a notch or two on my “must hear” list, if only to see how Coyne’s ambitious words actually match up with the music. The article also links to a (very low quality) download of one of the album’s tracks, “The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat).” Listening to it, it’s obvious the band is going for a much heavier sound that’s as psychedelic and proggy as anything I’ve heard from them.

411 courtesy of Elastic Heart.

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