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The Terror (Deluxe Version)

The Flaming Lips

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Album Review

One of the Flaming Lips' greatest strengths is how vividly they express emotions. For most of their career, they've focused on capturing wide-eyed wonder, unbridled glee, and the occasional poignant moment, but The Terror proves they're just as good at channeling despair. Embryonic hinted at this darker shift, but here it comes to a head: sparked by Wayne Coyne's separation from his longtime partner and Steven Drozd's struggles with substance abuse, The Terror is more fragmented and anguished than its predecessor. Where Embryonic's bold swaths of noise and pulsing synths broke free of expectations, on The Terror they represent being cut loose and drifting off into loneliness and doubt. The opening track, "Look... The Sun Rising" makes it clear that this is not the Flaming Lips fans have come to expect since the late '90s. As Coyne sings "Love is always something/Something you should fear" and invokes MK Ultra, harsh guitars and beats create a wall of sound that's both claustrophobic and isolating. As dark as the album is, it's also some of the band's most fascinating music; vintage electronics buzz and whir around Coyne's wounded vocals in a way that recalls Meddle-era Pink Floyd and the Silver Apples in its spacy bleakness. The Terror was recorded in a short time and it shows in the urgency within every track, even the 13-minute centerpiece "You Lust," which moves from some of the band's most shockingly angry moments ("You've got a lot of nerve to f**k with me!," Coyne snarls at its beginning) to a delicate coda that evokes Raymond Scott's Soothing Sounds for Baby. While the album often feels like a black hole sucking up all the hope in the universe, to the band's credit, they're never too obvious about it. Coyne's largely philosophical lyrics are all the more striking in how they imply this feeling rather than just stating it, particularly on one of the loveliest and scariest tracks here, "Butterfly, How Long It Takes to Die." It contemplates life and death on a personal and universal scope, linking it to the sun's rising and setting; throughout the album, the band uses the sun as a metaphorical reminder that life goes on even when you wish it wouldn't. Experimental even for a band that has made outlandish sounds and ideas its bread and butter for decades, The Terror finds the Flaming Lips at the peak of their powers as they embody what it's like to be overwhelmed; they don't offer a shoulder to cry on as much as an acknowledgment of just how isolating pain can be. While it's common to call artists brave for addressing life's darker moments, there's some truth to it: it's not easy to face up to and present the worst parts of being alive, much less in a way that's artistically pleasing or relevant. The Lips don't make it sound easy, which is why The Terror is so powerful. [The U.S. vinyl version of the album featured the "Mashed-the-F-Up" remix of "We Don't Control the Controls" as a bonus track.]

Customer Reviews

I have heard the album

I have heard the new album, it was released in the UK today. It sound nothing like the commercial track "The sun blows up today", actually the opposite. The album is exactly what wayne Coyne said it would be. It is dark, metallic, atmospheric, no catchy sing alongs, no anthems. It seems to me an album for Lips die hard and it should be preformed in foggy graveyards. I respect it . . . but was anticipating more.

One of the Best.

Like most of their albums, this one differs from the last. Compared to 2009's "Embryonic," this album has more structured songwriting, and is largely electronic. The mood is very dark and depressing, just as the Lips have been describing it, and deals with subjects such as death and drug addiction- and will be hard to listen to at first. But believe me, this album grows on you, and is now one of my personal favorites from the Flaming Lips. The trick is to approach it with an open mind... don't expect to hear "Yoshimi" or "Soft Bulletin" in this one. Wayne's vocals on the songs (specifically on "Look... The Sun is Rising" and "Butterfly, How Long it Takes to Die") are filled with emotion, and Steven even gets a chance to sing lead on some tracks. (My favorite of these is "Turning Violent") If you're a fan of the Flaming Lips as a band, not a pop band, you will like this album- and I highly reccomend buying it.

Got a preveiw of this album at SXSW.

I saw the Flaming Lips at SXSW and they played this album in its entirety. I knew it would be different, I believed them when they said it would be darker, but I had no idea how much. To set the tone, imagine: instead of confetti filled t- shirt cannons, walking in space balls, and dancing animals, substitute a dark set with strange cords coming out of the walls: flashing vaginas and eye-balls on the screen, fire balls, Wayne draped in umbilical cords all the while holding a baby doll and human heads that sing. Seriously! It was an amazing performance and the songs were really a departure from previous material… in the best possible way. Cannot wait for the record to come out.

Biography

Formed: 1983 in Oklahoma City, OK

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Even within the eclectic world of alternative rock, few bands were so brave, so frequently brilliant, and so deliciously weird as the Flaming Lips. From their beginnings as Oklahoma weirdos to their mid-'90s pop culture breakthrough to their status as one of the most respected groups of the 2000s, the Lips rode one of the more surreal and haphazard career trajectories in pop music. An acid-bubblegum band with as much affinity for sweet melodies as blistering noise assaults, their off-kilter...
Full Bio

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