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Flaming Lips | Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop

The Flaming Lips

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Warner Bros.)
by Tim Den

Did I really expect The Flaming Lips to top the now-classic The Soft Bulletin? Well, yes. Guess Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots taught me a lesson in high expectations. Not that this first-new-album-in-nearly-three-years is bad by any means. It's just... so hard to accept anything less than perfect from these connoisseurs of "space pop." And, unfortunately, Yoshimi Battles the Robots is far from perfect.

Taking The Soft Bulletin's brilliant use of electronic beats and monolithic orchestral arrangements into a Blade Runner setting, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (with its pastel-colored artwork as visual accompaniment) sounds like a voyage into an eternally-sunsetting futuristic planet. Mechanical birds chirp, synthetic bells croon, hydraulic beats boom, time warps open up out of echo-y guitar notes... but wait. Where are the songs? The kind of writing that made The Soft Bulletin gorgeous, crazy instrumentation or not? How did half of the songs on Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots end up with such weak premises (the incongruous "In the Morning of the Magicians," the repetitive "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell," the bland "It's Summertime," and - despite a decent chorus - the meandering "Are You a Hypnotist??")?

The inability to deliver the same caliber of melodic cleverness is what ultimately makes Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots only a decent album; far from the panoramic vision The Soft Bulletin will forever be revered as. With the band ever more knowledgeable in recording and experimentation, it's a shame that the songs themselves couldn't have been better.

 


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