'War' -- What Is It Good For?
Wayne Coyne says he will forever douse his audience with confetti, but make no mistake about it, the Flaming Lips frontman is angry.Wayne Coyne says he will forever douse his audience with confetti, but make no mistake about it, the Flaming Lips frontman is angry. If 2002's "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots," cloaked its emotions with songs about Japanese superheroes and true-to-life androids, the new "At War With the Mystics" (Warner Bros.) finds the Flaming Lips putting a greater focus on the here and now. And Coyne does not like what he sees.
"You think you're radical, but you're not so radical," Coyne sings on the album's "Free Radicals." "In fact, you're fanatical."
With its Prince-like feel, the Flaming Lips have never sounded so funky. But even more surprising is the sarcasm heard in Coyne's voice. "This wasn't by our intention, but we've been given this sort of throne of optimism and enthusiasm," Coyne says. "Regardless of the darkness around us, the Flaming Lips will find the shining light and sing about it. I didn't want people to think we could just ignore everything else and sing about how wonderful the world is when we've got shit like George W. Bush."
There are a handful of protest songs, including the bouncy "Haven't Got a Clue" and the space-rock anthem "The W.A.N.D." Yet the Flaming Lips seem incapable of going completely negative, and there are moments of beauty, notably the swirling mix of guitars, keyboards and flutes on "Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung."
As Coyne explains, "You can't sit there and say, 'We'll just sing about the mystical, magical nature of love and existence.' We don't expect to change the war. I have no illusions that rock music has ever changed anything, but if nothing else, this is like praying. We sing it to the darkness, and it makes us feel better."