Faced with the unenviable task of attempting to follow-up the most critically acclaimed album of their career (The Soft Bulletin
), the Flaming Lips first took some much needed time off, then crawled back into their Oklahoma City bunker to began planning their next move. They plotted and strategized, then plotted some more -- and then, still in need of more artillery, they enlisted the services of producer Dave Fridmann. Together, these four men crafted the scrupulously beautiful slice of pop art that is Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
The seminal group's long-awaited tenth album is a perfect synthesis of modern studio manipulation and old-time pop craftsmanship, shattering all notions of what pop music can, or for that matter, should be. With this release the Lips have forever shifted the boundaries of modern composition. They don't just make music; they've created a celestial symphony that celebrates the victory of the human spirit over limitless diversity -- a soundtrack to all the possibilities that life can offer.
To call Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots a pop record is to use the loosest definition of "pop" known to man, yet no other adjective seems more apt when describing the aural dexterity and dreamlike fragility of songs like "It's Summertime" or "Do You Realize?". This is "pop" in the true Spectorian tradition: glorious walls of syncopated sound and voice coalescing into songs so unbelievably beautiful that words hardly do them justice.
In a strange twist, the album's reliance upon electronic textures actually gives it a more human feel; the synthesized strings and tiptoeing beats of "All We Have is Now" are simply heartbreaking, while the gospelidelic "Are You a Hypnotist??" is the closest the Flaming Lips have ever come to realizing religion through song.
While it has long been believed that Wayne Coyne's vocals and lyrics are what truly sets the group apart from their like-minded peers, the sheer profundity of meticulously arranged tracks like "In the Morning of the Magicians" and "On More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21" asserts the group's unmistakable, perhaps even unparalleled skill as musicians and arrangers. It is this skill, and not merely Coyne's elfin croon and surreal lyrics, that inspires the reverent attention of musicians, critics and fans alike.
In the coming weeks, you will likely see a wealth of adjectives pressed into service to describe Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. While the majority of these effusive descriptions will be justified (and probably a bit confusing), this album, more than any other in the Lips' massive canon, truly needs to be heard to be believed. Or perhaps, depending upon your taste in hallucinogens, heard to be seen.