Broken hearts have created a lot of amazing music over the years‚ usually presenting their own dogmatic relationship with the thing we like to call "love." So leave it to Wayne Coyne to make an album that sounds like he spent his recent split eating mushrooms and listening to Pink Floyd's "Saucerful of Secrets" on repeat for two weeks straight. But don't expect to see The Flaming Lips play any of the songs off this album while Coyne bounces in a giant balloon and the crowd sings about Vaseline and giant robots -- this is The Lips getting scary again. Adding experience and technology to a sound they haven't touched since they played 10 minute versions of "Jesus Shooting Heroin" 30 years ago‚ The Terror is a 9-part passage of dark-pulses focused on a centralized theme that love is a scam. Think Metal Machine Music minus the power-drill to the temple‚ but with some lyrical mantras of existential fear draped on top -- and of course the craziest part is that it works brilliantly.
"Look… The Sun Rising" starts the record off in much the same place that we left off with on 2009's Embryonic -- weird keys‚ slightly askew guitar riff‚ and that massive rock-slide feel on the drums. The familiarity lures you in‚ then Coyne sings that "love is always something that you should fear" and you have just enough time to process how dark things are getting before you're suddenly inside a fluxing electronic quiver that won't let you go for the next 54 minutes. And oh yeah‚ your old friends drum-kit and electric guitar aren't coming around for the ride either. Every cut on the album morphs into its successor‚ and there's a scarcity of melodic cues to distinguish one's end from the other's beginning. It makes for a cohesive unit that essentially requires a full-listen‚ as individual tracks lack a tangible stand-alone quality. In other words‚ this is one of those albums fare more suited for the enraptured audiophile than for the teenage girl who danced on stage with the band at Bonnaroo. (Nerds win again!)
By the time I made it halfway through the album's centerpiece‚ "You Lust‚" I kind of had that feeling like I was entering hour 7 of an ayahuasca trip. Either that or I was in shackles boarding an alien invaders' slave ship en route to Mars‚ and listening to the cinematic soundtrack pumping in the background. This record is a journey‚ but one with great dividends throughout. It's very much a personalized experience though‚ especially since most people will never have a valid occasion to say: "Hey gang‚ let's bust out that twisted art-rock album and collectively ruminate on the bleakness of human desire!" But we all need to be freaked the fuck out now and again‚ and The Lips have finally remembered how they used to be the best in the game.