Thursday, December 11, 2008

Semi-Classic Album of the Week #7: The Flaming Lips - "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots"

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

I credit The Flaming Lips for introducing me to the concept of "slow rhythms/fast beats" and, by extension, to the world of independent music. Though the Lips had long been signed to Warner Bros. Records, their music maintained an independence, personality and, perhaps most importantly, an occasional raggedness that always put them more in line with the indie groups they influenced.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is forty-five minutes of blissful, moving pop music, with a science fiction theme that eventually wanders into more introspective territory. The band has a knack for making traditional instruments sound very electronic, and the guitars, keyboards and drums on this album often sound almost sampled, making a nice spacey atmosphere that makes this great driving/"chill" music.

The lyrics are still fairly unsophisticated, but quite affecting in their simplicity, giving weight to tracks like "One More Robot / Sympathy 3000-21" or "In the Morning of the Magicians." Wayne Coyne isn't always the world's most shining lyricist, but this album has few cringe-worthy moments, unlike the fairly bland* The Soft Bulletin or At War With the Mystics, which seemed to dedicate itself to being as thoroughly uncompelling and uninvolving as possible.

But Yoshimi (aside from one really terrible shrieking instrumental early on) really shines. So much work went into creating the funky, organic soundscapes that anybody with a shred of patience should find themselves head-bobbing along, if not preparing for the upcoming robot war, which sounds like it's gonna be pretty dang stylish.

* I'm aware that the critical consensus doesn't agree with me on that statement.

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