Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Flaming Lips release The Terror

Sonically rich textures formed by synthesizers and spacey, but rockin' guitars and drums help shape the somewhat haunting sound of the latest Flaming Lips release.  The album as a whole has a distant, washed out, and abrasive tone.  But that lends itself well to the apparent theme of something unknown, or universally scary.   Unsettling concepts are not new to the group though as can be heard on earlier releases such as "Do You Realize" which has a positive "message" but confronts the idea of death as well.    

The lyrics for most of the tracks on "The Terror"  are not easily discernible on a first listen but that fits this sound well.   I wasn't bothered or left overly curious about the exact words but was more transported by a very different sounding album as a whole.  Songs blend together in a way that really makes the album feel like one big composition.  The album ebbs and flows to some degree but maintains a very consistent grittiness and mood.  The vocals are washed and textural on most tracks but they are still poignant.  They are there if you want to hear them but easily dismissible if you want to just space out.  

Overall, the album has an edge and is powerful on a first and repeated listen.  Fans may find this to be sounding like an extension of "Embryonic" in some ways and that is probably accurate.  But this album is far more realized as an overall sound and comes across quite convincingly.  The album is erie indeed but in a good sort of way like some old Pink Floyd. If nothing else, it's different from nearly everything else being produced these days, especially from Major-Label acts.  And the Flaming Lips are still an old-fashioned, instrument-playing rock band that keeps evolving.  

Where some may find the album a bit exhausting or too much of a similar sound, I think it's great to hear a band really dig in to a sound.  And it will be very interesting to see how this new material works into the live setting as it does sound quite different to many of their earlier releases.  The album is out April 16, 2013 on many formats including a nicely packaged double-LP that also includes a special Remix track on side D.  

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