Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 21: The Flaming Lips, "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots"

Artist: The Flaming Lips
Album: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Year: 2002
Label: Warner Bros.

At the turn of the millennium, the music world was stale and stagnant. A majority of mainstream acts were cheap copies of one another. Music of significance WAS being created, but it was only heard in small clubs and the dark alleys of the music scene. Then suddenly, a group who had been making music for twenty years saved the world from boredom with their avant-psychedelic masterpiece Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.

The Flaming Lips had already released nearly a dozen albums, but until the release of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, they were best known for their alterna-hit "She Don't Use Jelly" from 1993's equally impressive Transmissions From The Satellite Heart. With Yoshimi..., the group took their bass-driven sound, tossed in their keyboards and sound effects, and created one of the most sonically beautiful "rock operas" ever recorded. From rock to ambient to nearly gospel, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots is a truly remarkable album. Also, the album is about ninjas fighting with robots...I mean really, do you need any more of a reason to buy and love the record?!?

At times, Yoshimi... sounds like a musical fight between The Crystal Method and The Moody Blues. The music has amazingly gorgeous textures, and yet is edgy and aggressive at the same time. Most of the record is made up of a series of breathtaking instrumental pieces with light, drifting vocals scattered throughout. The record surrounds the listener with sound and that, in turn, pulls the listener deep into the futuristic tale. The Flaming Lips present a wide range of sounds as some of the tracks are very spacey, some sound like vintage psychedelic era anthems, and yet, there are also songs that have a very industrial feel. They execute all of the various styles sensationally and the album has a great variety, and yet there is no question of the albums' overall unity.

The lyrics and vocals of Wayne Coyne are something beyond the normal usage of the word "magnificent." His tone and delivery melt into the backing music and his voice truly becomes another instrument. Lyrically, the album contains some of the most artistically exquisite phrasing in history. At the same time, many of these wonderful words concern universal realities and are very plainly stated. The albums' sole single, "Do You Realize?" states, " you realize...that everyone you know...someday will die." Obviously, this is about as basic and common a thought as there is; but when it is presented in the matter that is is on Yoshimi..., it has amazing impact and beauty simultaneously.

The fact that The Flaming Lips are able to sing about deep subjects such as integrity, morality, and death, and yet present them in as beautiful manner as they do has set them far apart from their peers over the decades. Over that time period, they have mastered the ability of creating gorgeous soundscapes and intertwining vocals perfectly throughout. With Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, the band makes the most cohesive record of their career. While projecting a futuristic story, they are still able to present issues we deal with in our own era. It seems that the creativity of The Flaming Lips knows no bounds and all we can do is hope for more amazing music in the years to come. If you've yet to experience Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, run, do not walk, to your nearest online store, record shop, or wherever you get your music and find yourself a copy.

Standout tracks: "Fight Test," "In The Morning Of The Magicians," and "Do You Realize?"

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