Fire Note Says: The Flaming Lips revisit planet earth with more conceptually-based space.
Album Review: The Flaming Lips have always been an interesting force in music. Keeping watch over the alternative rock music scene since 1983—for better or worse—nothing seems to deter them. A now-canceled collaboration album with Ke$ha, parking lot noise experiments, USB drive gummy skulls, the Tame Lips/Flaming Impala cover EP, a trip into space with Christmas on Mars, etc. Well now the Lips are bringing listeners back to the conceptual with the new Peace Sword EP. After being asked to record a new song, “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart),” for the new Ender’s Game film adaptation, the band took that influence and decided to turn it into a full six song EP.
The Ender’s Game film—for those who are unfamiliar—is a take on the 1985 novel depicting a kid’s quest to take on and defeat an alien race in order to save the world. Since this could conceivably be a Flaming Lips song anyway, Wayne & co. decided give it a shot. While Peace Sword never pushes the group outside of their comfort zone, it’s a release fans will easily gravitate to—especially if they had a hard time with The Terror (TFN Review) earlier this year. The title track, “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart),” showcases some of the band’s more familiar qualities right off the bat. Working with Tobacco—a member of Black Moth Super Rainbow—and injecting some classic Soft Bulletin-era instrumentation, the kaleidoscopic optimism quickly thaws the loveless, dystopian chill of The Terror–though it’s not totally gone.
Peace Sword creates it own brand of cold, mechanical, chill with the more repetitive, robotic/electronic tracks. “If They Move, Shoot ‘Em” is a spinoff of The Terror‘s “Butterfly, How Long Does It Take To Die”—prolonged desolation and all. “Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy,” while not as attuned to the darkness, lurches with cybernetic momentum, some sunny Yoshimi influences materializing in its rearview.
I have to say, the Peace Sword EP is a solid addition to the Lips’ discography. However, while the Lips are never really ones to hold their philosophical tongues (and praise be for some of their bold moves), they do get into a bit of trouble here. The final track, “Assassin Beetle – The Dream Is Ending” takes a ten-minute stitch of tense, off-kilter instrumentation and uses it to sew together all the other tracks’ lyrical themes. It’s a neat idea that only gets clouded by longwinded-ness and an anti-climatic end. But these shortcomings aside, Peace Sword makes its intentions perfectly clear right from the start, and that’s exactly what Lips fans want to hear—especially those who had a hard time seeing past the bleakness of The Terror.
Key Tracks: “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart) [feat. Tobacco],” “If They Move, Shoot ‘Em,” “Think Like a Machine, Not a Boy”
Artists With Similar Fire: Mercury Rev / Stardeath and the White Dwarfs / POND
-Reviewed by Christopher Tahy