Review: The Flaming Lips – Peace Sword EP
Published on October 31st, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Given Wayne Coyne’s apparent obsession with narcotics, maybe The Flaming Lips’ Peace Sword EP should instead have been titled Peace EP.
Peace EP! Geddit? Arf! Oh, we slay us. Anyway, Peace Sword comprises of six songs inspired by forthcoming “science-fiction epic” Ender’s Game, based on the 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card, although only opening track “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)” will actually appear in the film.
We haven’t seen it, nor have we read the book, so we can’t very well offer much comment on that side of things. Of more interest to us, at least at the time of writing, is a fresh slab of new material from arguably planet Earth’s greatest functioning band.
At 36 minutes, Peace EP is practically a mini-album, albeit the Lips more or less surrendered space and time as a gauge of their work when they released a twenty-four-hour song. (We still haven’t got round to reviewing that, but we did manage to do the six-hour one.)
Their Steven Drozd-led The Terror album of earlier this year is their slowest burner to date, its wall-to-wall bleakness relatively impenetrable at first but immersing you more and more in its realm as you rack up the spins.
Seeing it done in a live setting clinched it for Rocksucker; it’s kind of like The Flaming Lips’ Kid A, if you’re given to making such comparisons.
On “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)” The Lips sound more like their old selves. Thinking on, that’s quite a spurious claim since by “old selves” we’re referring to their tenth album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots; in any case it’s the most symphonic, fluttery, skygazing thing they’ve done since that period, though still rendered in the distortion-addled production of more recent outings.
The ensuing “If They Move, Shoot ‘Em” drags us straight back into the murk with shuddering squelches of synth bass and the kind of jarring electronic buzzing that infested The Terror. However, it feels more menacing and paranoid than adrift and desolate, riding one of those ace ‘inside out’ drum beats that the Lips have been playing around with in recent years.
“Is the Black at the End Good” is a little bit like if “Waitin’ for a Superman” had been on Zaireeka, except not as great as that sounds. The elegant tonality of its slow-marching progression is surprisingly straightforward, not that the Lips aren’t entitled to mess with our heads by taking time out to not mess with our heads.
If that makes any sense.
Fearless freakiness is restored by “Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy” and “Wolf Children”, the Zaireeka-ish former of which announces itself with head-melting whirring, the latter taking the form of a creeping, cartoonish kind of strut.
Another rumbling inside-out rhythm, this one of a more ‘tribal’ hue, carries “Assassin Beetle – The Dream is Ending” through shuddering wibbles of synth before it all dissipates into a wilderness of strings and a soft Coyne vocal, ending with roaring sustained honks of distorted bass.
Ultimately we have to quail Peace Sword EP against The Flaming Lips’ own ridiculously high standards, but it’s a worthy addition to an impeccable legacy.
Peace Sword EP will be released November 4th on Bella Union.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!