At War with the Mystics

( 7 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
The Flaming Lips have crafted some of rock's most seamless albums, discs unified sonically and conceptually. Given major-domo Wayne Coyne's fondness for zigging when he's expected to zag, it's not all that surprising that the years-in-the-making At War with the Mystics all but entirely dispenses with that blueprint, instead delivering a multi-directional blast of tunes spanning the Lips' entire comfort zone. Folks drawn to the dreamscapes of The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots will relish easing into the pillowy "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion," on which multiple Coynes, backed by multiple synthesizers, urge rejection of the outside world's negativity. He...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
The Flaming Lips have crafted some of rock's most seamless albums, discs unified sonically and conceptually. Given major-domo Wayne Coyne's fondness for zigging when he's expected to zag, it's not all that surprising that the years-in-the-making At War with the Mystics all but entirely dispenses with that blueprint, instead delivering a multi-directional blast of tunes spanning the Lips' entire comfort zone. Folks drawn to the dreamscapes of The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots will relish easing into the pillowy "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion," on which multiple Coynes, backed by multiple synthesizers, urge rejection of the outside world's negativity. He ups the ante in terms of sheer flamboyance on the tympani-laced mini-symphony "Pompeii am Götterdämmerung," which reconciles prog-rock values with a Sesame Street worldview. The Lips depart from that sunny-day outlook more often here than they have in ages, however, dealing with real-world issues for the first time in ages -- something that's most palpable on the fuzzed-out psych-rock nugget "W.A.N.D. Will Always Negates Defeat." That song's call to arms is matched by the aggression of the partly a cappella, fully weirded-out "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," on which Coyne challenges his audience to prove they wouldn't sell their souls given the right offer. And while such temptations have doubtlessly crossed the Lips' path in recent times, At War with the Mystics is filled with evidence that they're still too smart to take the bait.
All Music Guide - Heather Phares
Since 1999's The Soft Bulletin, the Flaming Lips have issued an album once every three or four years -- roughly once per presidential term, making At War with the Mystics the second album they've made during George W. Bush's presidency. While Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots' themes of seizing the moment and accepting mortality could easily be read as a reaction to 9/11, At War with the Mystics is a more overtly timely album for the mid-to-late 2000s, dealing with the motivation behind the war in Iraq and Bush's presidency. By grappling with heavy subjects like these, it could seem like the Flaming Lips are taking their role as one of America's most prominent and beloved alternative rock bands too seriously, but Mystics' light touch shows that they can still be important without being self-important. In fact, the album's most pointed tracks are the most playful. As they did on Yoshimi's "Fight Test," the Lips couch their aggression in bouncy melodies and playful production tricks. With its robotic doo wop vocals and strummy acoustic guitars, "Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" -- which asks its listeners if they could do any better if they were handed all the power in the world -- sounds oddly like a Paul Simon song updated for the 21st (or maybe even 22nd) century. "Free Radicals," which sounds like Prince via Beck with a dash of Daft Punk, and "Haven't Got a Clue," which boasts the refrain "Every time you state your case, the more I want to punch your face," get their points across emphatically -- almost too emphatically, actually, for as catchy as these songs are, they don't really expand on their thoughts or sounds much. However, the middle section of At War with the Mystics is expansive and intimate at the same time, like many of the Flaming Lips' best moments have been. "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion" and "Vein of Stars" play like updates of The Soft Bulletin's effortless, weightless beauty, and "The Sound of Failure" is a reminder that it's OK to be sad sometimes (while getting in digs at the teen pop platitudes of Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani) set to a gorgeous backdrop of soft rock flutes and guitars and twittering electronics. This stretch of songs plays almost like a suite, which ties right in with At War with the Mystics' prog rock leanings. Pink Floyd is a major influence on the entire album: "The Wizard Turns On..." is a spacey, late-night instrumental that could easily be synched to The Wizard of Oz, while "Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung" also taps into Floyd's elaborate, epic power. These trippy moments make At War with the Mystics the most psychedelic and least immediate album the Flaming Lips have done in a long, long time, and the way that Mystics bounces back and forth between its ethereal and zany moments gives it a disjointed, uneven feel that makes the album a shade less satisfying than either Yoshimi or Soft Bulletin. Still, as standout tracks like "Mr. Ambulance Driver" and "Goin' On" show, the band is still fighting the good fight and confronting the bad things in life with hope, optimism, and just the right amount of (magical) realism.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/4/2006
  • Label: Warner Bros / Wea
  • UPC: 093624996620
  • Catalog Number: 49966
  • Sales rank: 26,408

Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Flaming Lips Primary Artist
Greg Kurstin Background Vocals
Michael Ivins Group Member
Wayne Coyne Group Member
Steven Drozd Group Member
Kliph Scurlock Drums
Technical Credits
The Flaming Lips Composer
Dave Fridmann Programming, Lyricist, Producer, Engineer, Mastering
Greg Kurstin Lyricist, Producer, Instrumentation
Scott Booker Producer
Michael Ivins Engineer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Trippin

    This is the type of music that throws you back to a time where musician like Jimi Hendrix were experimenting in the rock/blues/psychedilia relm, and the Allan Parson Project was big. The Flaming Lips ressurect a musical form that is so cool. Very lucid album

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A wonderful album...

    This album has received some harsh criticism - especially from fans of the Flaming Lip's previous album, primarily because it isn't as instantly accessible, nor does it have a "concept" to keep it all glued together. Neither of these are issues, unless you just want Yoshimi Pt. 2. Otherwise, this is an excellent album from start to finish, and it's clear that these guys are constantly evolving as a band. This album isn't 'difficult', and many of the songs are simply breathtaking. A must listen.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Garage Electronica

    Shimmering red superpop whimsical and strange, powerful and unusual. Taken as individual tracks, some of the songs can fall a little flat, most notably "Ambulance Driver." As an album, though, it's a joy not quite on the level of The Soft Bulletin, but yet another step forward and slightly to the left by a band that continues to evolve and evolve and evolve.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    With all your Power!

    This is the best acid psychedelic techno jazz progressive rock i've heard in years. Lyrically, it's as big a mystery as any other Flaming Lips release, though most tracks are not ashamed to hide their political rants. Musically, it's catchy, flows well, and it's very listenable. Kudos! Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd, and Michael Ivins have done it again. If you liked other Flaming Lips albums, then true to their reputation you will find absolutely nothing familiar here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews