The Flaming Lips hit a reinvigorated creative peak when the band released what might be its best, most fully-realized album – 2009’s dark and dizzying Embryonic,Â a full 26 years into the band’s career.
The band goes further down the doomy, psychedelic rabbit hole with The Terror. Guitars take mostly a backseat here to swarming beds of dissonant synthesizers, hissing electronics and unhinged, primal drums. Wayne Coyne’s haunting, echoed vocals project disembodied, melancholy melodies, further adding to the tense, grim atmosphere.
From the introductory “Look… The Sun is Rising,” the sinister 13-minute “You Lust” with its ominous march and repeating synth figure, the hypnotic title track, and the poignant “Try to Explain,” the tone of the trippy journey is set right away. The second half of the album, with the netherworldly “You Are Alone” and “Turning Violent,” only inspires more dread and anxiety.
It’s only at the very last track – the supremely sunny and exuberant rush of “Sun Blows Up Today” – that the mood finally and thankfully lifts and sends your spirits from the depths to the heavens.
If you’ve got a low threshold for these kinds of dark freak-outs, The Terror could be a bit much. But the Lips are certainly riding this new creative streak well, and the result is another riveting entry in the band’s already vast and far-reaching catalog.