The Flaming Lips - The Terror

The Flaming Lips - The Terror
Album Reviews

What they seem to be aiming for; this absolute bleakness, this slab of discomfort, has definitely been achieved.

Label: Bella Union
Released: 1st April 2013
Reviewer: Dave Rowlinson
‘Look, The Sun Is Rising’ sets an ominous tone; huge rotating blades whir threateningly into life, slicing through discordant electro rasp and kick-in-the-gut-punch-in-the-face drum beat. Wayne Coyne murmurs, distractedly, distantly, about a spaceship hiding in the grass. It stutters, breaks down, sticks and stutters again. That this, relatively, is the album’s ‘She Don’t Use Jelly’ lets you know, pretty early, that those confetti cannons ain’t gonna be exploding too much over this record.

Let’s face it, with every album since the occasionally patchy but mostly wonderful ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’ we’ve prayed for a return to form for The Flaming Lips, we’ve prayed for the big sad love songs of ‘The Soft Bulletin’, we’ve prayed even harder for the pop-hit deluge of ‘Transmissions From The Satellite Heart’. If it’s going to be indulgent, then let it be the playfully indulgent absurdness of ‘Zaireeka’, we bargained. The returns, though, have been ever diminishing. And now we have ‘The Terror’; wilfully bleak, wilfully obtuse, wilfully awkward and wilfully ugly. Whoever’s been passing on our wishes to the band has got to be f**king with us, because this, categorically, isn’t the answer to those prayers.

In fact, ‘The Terror’ is an answer to nothing, ‘The Terror’ is all questions, and that might be the most unsettling thing about it. This is a band that have always seemed so convinced by their truths, a band that had the answers to the big questions. But this is so abstract, so removed from fact or conviction. “Did God make pain so we can know the high that nothing is?” Wayne asks, pleadingly. “Trying to explain why you’ve changed, I don’t think I understand” he cries, confused as hell. Even more worrying is his preoccupation with sunrise and sunset; the theme recurs constantly through this record, used as metaphor for the inevitable passing of time and the bookending of days, but on The Flaming Lips' most important record we were told there’s no such thing, that the sun don’t go down, that it’s just an illusion, caused by the world spinning ‘round. Do you realise, Wayne, that you’re messing with our heads here?

What they seem to be aiming for; this absolute bleakness, this slab of discomfort, has definitely been achieved. ‘The Terror’ is the sound of the seriously strung-out, the feeling of being so sleep-deprived your mind plays tricks. It’s a flashlight shining in your eyes, disorientating so much you can only make out vague shapes instead of details.’The Terror’ stares back at you like panicked faces underneath a frozen lake, visible, but distant. It’s giant metallic bugs filling an apocalyptic sky and blotting out a blood red sun. It’s dystopian. It’s somnambulance. It’s snow blindness. It’s all those things, and those things are impressively realised. But do we want to be impressed, or do we want to be entertained? Do we just want our Flaming Lips back?
Rating: 7/10
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