The Flaming Lips are back with their latest,The Terror, and Wayne Coyne and co are casting a dark shadow over the planet. Maybe it’s the foreboding title, or the fact that this is album number thirteen or maybe it’s the sense of the final curtain falling, but The Flaming Lips have created an album so full of fear and dread that one is left physically shaken.
An almost threatening plainsong, Look….The Sun Is Rising opens the record with otherworldly vocals over clipped drumbeats and jagged guitars. It’s an erratic, jumpy start but it’s a sign of what lies ahead. A dystopian universe is upon us, one where Big Brother looms. “Do you want control? Do we really have control?” Coyne asks and The Terror explores this theme throughout the album. The thirteen minute long sprawl of You Lust is a fuzzy, indistinct blur of epic proportions, all at once soulless yet full of humanity.
While this record should be absorbed as a whole, Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die is one of the few tracks that can stand on its own merit, floating off into the atmosphere with its scratchy guitars and culminating in a haze of dust and vapours. Turning Violent sees Coyne using his falsetto to great effect, a hypnotic, whispered vocal over layers of industrial noises.
The Terror is almost without form or shape, existing instead as a vacuum. It alienates yet consumes, panics yet soothes, taking the listener on a journey through space – inner space. As Ridley Scott’s Alien put it, “sometimes the scariest things come from within”.