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Published: 2013/05/04
by Ron Hart

The Flaming Lips
The Terror

Warner Bros.

2013 marks the 30th anniversary of The Flaming Lips. And on the excellent The Terror, the Oklahoma iconoclasts come full circle into the challenging, experimental sound they created while jockeying for position on the college radio charts back in 1983, completely abandoning the mainstream pop overtones that thrust them into the Muggle world during the late 90s/mid-2000s in favor of their darkest, most complex collection of songs yet.

Seeming to take cues from the more sinister vibes that permeated the group’s excellent 2009 return to form Embryonic, The Terror expresses the desperation of a particularly bleak period in the collective lives of the Lips’ primary architects Wayne Coyne—recovering from the world-shattering disseverment of a longtime romantic relationship—and Steven Drozd, whose relapse into the substance abuse which mired the majority of his adult life landed him a lengthy, tour-canceling hospital stay in 2010.

Working once again with longtime producer Dave Fridmann, choice material like “Try to Explain”, the epic “You Lust” and “Butterfly, How Long it Takes to Die” ripple with dark electronic undercurrents and stark analog synth gurgles that is more along the lines of A Saucerful of Secrets than Dark Side of the Moon (and they didn’t even have to cover it). It is not only the spaciest work of the Lips’ three-decade-long career, but also one that belongs right up there with In A Priest Driven Ambulance and Clouds Taste Metallic amongst the vanguard of their catalog.

Fans of the band’s super cutesy beach-ball-and-stuffed-animal phase of The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots will no doubt be thrown for a loop with The Terror. But then again, this is not the Flaming Lips album for them.

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