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The Flaming Lips
Peace Sword

Warner Brothers

After heading to the dark side of the band’s psychedelic musical palette on 2009’s spectacular Embryonic The Flaming Lips fine-tuned the expansive ideas from that set into a hypnotic combination that’s part freak flag flying and part ominous bad tripping. Early in 2013, the members released The Terror, which moved into laidback, spaced out territory. Coming out later in the year, the six-song, 36-minute EP Peace Sword condenses what’s worked on previous albums. Being short on excess, the result is a much more satisfying and fully-realized experience.

The opening track, “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart),” was written exclusively for the sci-fi film Ender’s Game, while the five other numbers were inspired by the movie as well as the 1985 book upon which the film is based. Set in the future, it presents mankind preparing for a third invasion by insect-like aliens. As a young Ender Wiggins trains through a series of games his superiors realize that he’s a genius that just might save planet earth.

I’ve never read the novel nor did I watch the film but it’s not necessary to enjoy Peace Sword. With songs like “If They Move, Shoot ‘Em,” “Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy” and “Assassin Beetle – The Dream Is Ending,” you gain some sense of the storyline. “Is the Black at the End Good” features Wayne Coyne’s indefatigable optimism carried out through vocals that are so full of yearning they strain to hit notes that, like world peace, are barely within reach.

In the end the Flaming Lips put forth a more disciplined approach here and the strength of the material shows it. Who knows if this leads to further literary excursions? The Lips tackle Moby Dick? Dune? Slaughterhouse-Five? No matter. If the results are as good as this, they will be just as welcomed.

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