At War With the Mystics

Studio Album by released in 2006
At War With the Mystics's tracklist:
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)
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Free Radicals (A Hallucination of the Christmas Skeleton Pleading With a Suicide Bomber)
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The Sound of Failure / It's Dark... Is It Always This Dark??
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My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion (The Inner Life as Blazing Shield of Defiance and Optimism as Celestial S
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Vein of Stars
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The Wizard Turns On... The Giant Silver Flashlight and Puts on His Werewolf Moccasins
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It Overtakes Me / The Stars Are So Big... I Am So Small... Do I Stand a Chance?
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Mr. Ambulance Driver
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Haven't Got a Clue
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The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)
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Pompeii am Gotterdammerung
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Goin' On
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At War With the Mystics review

Twelfth studio album marks one more artistic high point for the Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips started out as yet another weird art band destined for the small performance spaces of '80s bohemia. But somehow, despite their boom-box orchestra – singer Wayne Coyne conducting 40 people wielding boom boxes – their occasional onstage bunny suits and their splattering of audience members with fake blood, they've not only survived for 24 years, but thrived. Their twelfth studio album, At War With the Mystics, marks one more artistic (and perhaps commercial) high point for the band. Produced once again by Dave Fridmann at his Tarbox Studios, the album sees Coyne and Co. move away from the digital sounds that dominated their 2002 release Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots and take on a more experimentalorganic sound described by leader Coyne as "space-age jazz and progressive Dixieland". At War With the Mystics is an invitingly freakish, downright pretty and even moving record: one part early Pink Floyd, one part the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and one part small-town science museum. It features shimmering keyboards, fuzzy psychedelic guitar and everyday found sounds – a creaking door, a beeping alarm – and the songs are tethered together with what sounds like signals from outer space.

At War With the Mystics reminds us that life is anything but ordinary

The album opens with two tracks that are extremely disorienting. Yeah Yeah Yeah Song and Free Radicals both disregard time signatures frequently making you feel like you’ve been cut loose of the grooves of the song like a man overboard from a ship, only to be reeled back in violently to catchy melodies. The strongest section of the album is the five-song stretch between The Wizard Turns On... to The W.A.N.D. The Wizard Turns On... is an instrumental that could have come straight from Pink Floyd. The next three tracks are the highlights of the more subdued aspects of At War With the Mystics. The W.A.N.D. is the first single and only track that brings back the over-the-top atmosphere of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. All songs here swirl around one central theme: our preoccupation with death. And oddly, they're optimistic, funny and beautiful. One, The Sound of Failure, ponders mortality through the eyes of a teenage girl who's lost a friend; another, Free Radicals, argues with a suicide bomber about his motivations. These songs are catchy, but never predictable. Take the new single, Mr. Ambulance Driver; it's built around the blare of a siren yet tempered by the whoosh of uplifting melodies. At War With the Mystics illuminates death with the fragmented light of a spinning disco ball, and it reminds us that life is anything but ordinary. The record closes with the cautiously optimistic and upbeat Goin’ On. It becomes clear that the band knows that despite the shape the world’s in, there’s no choice but to keep goin’ on.

The band's finest and most broadly experimental album to date

What’s unique about the standout tracks on At War With the Mystics is that the most experimental tracks are the ones that are the most likeable. Instrumentals, merged, and disjointed tracks are the ones that make At War With the Mystics a great album. In keeping with their unique sound, the recording process is also unusual. While The Flaming Lips are a three-piece, Drozd played all the instruments on the band's last record, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. On At War With the Mystics, he plays most of them, although Coyne takes up the guitar and Ivins the bass on some songs, in an effort to rock out the sound. Overall, At War With the Mystics balances The Flaming Lips’ airy stoner psych-pop with funkier feelings, keeping things fresh without completely changing course. For a band that was once one of the many one hit wonders in the mid-90’s alternative music scene, The Flaming Lips have evolved into one of the bands whose new album release date is circled on the calendar. They have befuddled, bamboozled and bemused the record buying public for over 20 years now, and things thankfully are unlikely to change with the arrival of At War With the Mystics, the band's finest and most broadly experimental album to date. If The Flaming Lips have been met with indifference or with bewilderment in the past, then it's time for the many and not just the few to take them to their breasts.