the flaming lips the terror

Bella Union / Warner Bros


The Flaming Lips

The Terror

Music and cinema go hand in hand; often the movie score is almost as compelling as the motion picture. Take the appeal of Quentin Tarantino’s films; they are generally a fifty/fifty split between what mad shit he can cook up next and what soundtrack will accompany the craziness. The new opus by The Flaming Lips possesses something of a cinematic vibe amongst its burbling synths, disconnected vocals and razor sharp contorted guitar lines. It’s as if the band’s thirteenth outing, The Terror, could by the aural partner to a post apocalyptic survival picture.

The band’s latest LP opens with ‘Look…The Sun Is Rising’ which in cinema terms sonically, is a real curtain raiser. Initially its like being plunged into the scenes of a catastrophic event, like the aftermath of a nuclear fallout, the abrasive noise and layered synth waves envelope you in a behemoth of oscillating noise making for an intense opening gambit. From here until the climax of The Terror, The Flaming Lips build a tense narrative across this newly formed digital soundscape. The myriad of songs at the nucleus of Wayne Coyne and Co’s new effort convey desolate, almost bleak imagery as if you are trudging across a deserted wasteland trying to make sense of the horror that has just happened. In principle The Terror lives up to its name, it’s a record of dark ambience that is fuelled by an intense fear.

The mid-section of the album tends to drag a little with a lack of differing digital offerings The Terror tends to merge into one long electronic grind, specifically on the thirteen minute discordant malevolence ‘You Lust’. ‘Try to Explain’, although a shorter partner to ‘You Lust’, is musically and lyrically removed, almost as if something has wiped the humanity out of The Flaming Lips.

The Terror’s trump card is its use of tension and suspense that slowly unravels throughout the album’s journey. During the last quarter of the record, the volatility increases with ‘Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die’ and ‘Turning Violent’ ramping up the atmospheric pressure. Everything then leads to the album closer ‘Always There…In Our Hearts’ that suitably bookends the albums beginning with world shuddering drumming and the notion that this cinematic end is coming to a violent, painful climax.
Interestingly The Terror sounds like what Radiohead might have produced post Amnesiac had they not embraced polyrhythmic beats instead. The Flaming Lips may have created the (almost) perfect post-Armageddon movie score in recent years, now they just need to find a film to accompany the album’s bleak, aloof portrayal.

Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams

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