The Flaming Lips
The Terror - WARNER
FILTER Grade: 85%
By Loren Auda Poin on May 15, 2013
If there is one thing The Flaming Lips do better than most—even more so than the hallucinogenic sound quality of their records, more than the jubilant sonic surprises generating synaptic fireworks in your skull—it is album composition. The Terror, the Lips’ 13th album, is sequenced so beautifully, the tones and dreadful cadences escalate so calmly and surely, that one is lulled along gently, but with a sustaining, horrific heartbeat that never flags. The Terror is not an album of pop-space-funk gems, nor is it even rock music; it has the gauze-wrapped, nighttime quality of Boards of Canada’s Music Has the Right to Children, but even slower, more minimal and yet more intense. The songs are not based on chord progressions or melodies, but on pure sound and emotion. “You Lust,” the 13-minute trudge of static and whispers that comes nearly halfway through the record, is a better soundtrack for deep psychic introspection than for galactic exploration. Rhythmic voices cry and scuttle throughout the song, hidden fragments of madness that can no longer be kept submerged. When the sparse melodies finally push through the muck, they emerge and rise, to awesome effect, like cold, mysterious beacons. The Lips may never again make an album as loony, as beautiful, as instantly inspiring as The Soft Bulletin or Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots—and why bother? There is a creative ease in the reptilian robotic crawl of The Terror that makes it listenable and engrossing for all its bleakness. As elder statesmen and road-tested, brilliant and capable artists, The Lips have earned a hard-fought freedom to explore every inch of the limitless musical territory available to them. The Terror is simply the latest (and darkest) report from those reaches, one that generates holographic intensities of the dire straits this band has seen throughout its 30-year career.