Flaming Lips: The Terror

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Warner Bros./Courtesy

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The Flaming Lips have become something of a flanderized band. That is to say, much like Ned Flanders from “The Simpsons,” time has turned them into a caricature of what they once were. With each new release, this group of esoteric psychonauts becomes more exaggeratedly esoteric and psychonautical. Their 2009 album Embryonic marked a journey into a dark and dissonant sonic realm as the group immersed itself in an ethos rife with gloomy cosmic struggles and LSD-fueled examinations of the psyche. Following a Pink Floyd cover album and a collab-heavy project with guests ranging from Yoko Ono to Ke$ha, the Lips return with The Terror, an album ironically made sillier by its self-important existentialism coupled with droning instrumentation.

For an album of only nine songs totaling almost an hour in length, one might expect more substance than is found here. The opener “Look…The Sun Is Rising” is also the album’s high point, in terms of both quality and likability. Guitar work is minimal; like on all the other songs, the synths dominate. A mesmerizing beat backs the trippy melodies, which screech like alien bagpipes. “Love is always something / Something you should fear,” moans singer Wayne Coyne, maintaining his nondescript state of distress-cum-wonderment that looms over the record.

What The Terror lacks in immediate or even eventual spark, it makes up for in consistency. The only guests featured are Phantogram, whose presence is barely felt on the 13-minute would-be epic “You Lust.” Coyne has been freed up to do what he does best, namely producing carefree psychedelia, but sadly, he doesn’t deliver. Constricted by overly affected production, the songs manage to take long and winding journeys without really leading anywhere.

Contact Erik Weiner at [email protected].