Well, there are plenty of things you can say about The Flaming Lips but, love ’em or hate ’em, you have to admit that they’re prolific. Seems like every six months they’ve got an album for you (or whoever buys their records). One minute they’re covering Dark Side of the Moon, the next minute they’re releasing an album of collaborations with their “heady fwends.” It seems there’s just no stopping them. Their latest release, The Terror, produce by the band and longtime collaborator Dave Fridmann, was recorded at Tarbox Road Studios and consists of 11 tracks (if you buy the deluxe edition with an extra 2) sure to make your jaw drop, if nothing else.
Listening to The Terror, I’m reminded of Kevin Smith’s “Steal The Thunder” philosophy. In short, the idea is that if he walks into a room full of people and calls himself a fat fuck then it’s out in the open and nobody else should feel prompted to do so. And, if they do, it’s OK because he’s already acknowledged it himself anyway. I believe The Flaming Lips applied a similar philosophy when they titled this album The Terror. A title like that implies, obviously, that what you’re about to hear might be terrifying or terrible. Or both. And, sure enough, it is. Both.
Normally, The Flaming Lips can produce songs that are at least remotely catchy but this time around that clearly wasn’t on the agenda. “Be Free, A Way” has a nice melody to it, but it’s surrounded by all sorts of droning sounds that are quite distracting. There’s also so much reverb and/or echo on Wayne Coyne’s vocals that I really couldn’t understand half of the lyrics. And apparently nobody on the internet can either because I consulted several lyrics sites and none of them had the lyrics for it. Not yet anyway. And usually these sites have lyrics for albums weeks before they’re even released, thanks to leaks and such.
One of the tracks here is called “Try To Explain.” But instead of explaining what this whole album is all about, Wayne mostly sings, “I believe you,” over and over again. Well, there are other lyrics, too, but that’s all I could decipher with the white noise-like sounds and droning nonsense going on. Honestly, a 12 year old kid with an iPad could have made this album. It’s truly that terrible. And, as far as being terrifying goes, the only thing scary about this is the possibility that the band might release more “music” like it in the future. If they wanted to startle anyone they’ve failed miserably because you can see these chilling effects coming a mile away. Just listen to half of the first song and you’ve more or less heard it all. But if I had to recommend one song here it would be “You Lust,” but I’m really not suggesting that you go out and listen to it. I’d consider this album to be something of a burden even if they had released it for free. You listen to it once and you want that hour of your life back. (If you really must do something with it, use one of the songs for a hidden track on the end of the next mix CD you make and perplex your friends.) If you really want to hear good droning music, which also happens to be quite scary at times, go check out The Knife’s harrowing new opus Shaking the Habitual.