One of my very favorite albums of all time is The Flaming Lips‘ “The Soft Bulletin“.
It was one of those truly defining, life changing records for me. There was something about the extremely vulnerable and existential quality of the lyrics that was met by the bombast and whispers of the music. It spoke to a true feeling of longing for an answer from the cosmos. Any answer. Like General Patton, there was this feeling that one could follow The Flaming Lips into any battle and come out alive. We would all fight the good fight and win. Then, songs took on a sweetly absurd quality that began diminishing that feeling. Although subsequent releases were fun and had a mischievous energy to them, through the fog of confetti, fake blood and gimmicks, the Lips never quite found that particular energy again.
Perhaps it’s a newfound (upsetting) realization that any answers we think we have eventually come into question again at some point in the wake of painful separations and relapses, but their latest album “The Terror” finds them entering the void again. However, this time instead of calling out from the edge into it with questions and affirmations about meaning, they are simply heading into it with billowing echoes of dreadful reverb and delay.
Where the void is silent, The Flaming Lips are howling into it, playing beacon tones and recording the decaying sound as the void refuses to answer.
It’s a rather upsetting proposition, but the result is that”The Terror” is possibly their best record in a decade. Not because it’s beautiful and makes you feel less alone, but because it’s beautifully ugly and reminds you that being alone is a very, very real thing and it needs to be embraced.
Like Kurtz at the end of Apocalypse Now, “Horror… Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared.”
You must make a friend of “The Terror“. Check out a track here