For all you know, Wayne Coyne could be sitting at a desk browsing throughout the world wide web, hacking into my computer system and analyzing every word that I type at this very moment. Possible? No, but I thought it would draw a nice parralel between what most people think of reality and the subconscious. Then again, the Flaming Lips are one of those crazy groups with a crazy name and a whole lot of crazy ideas, those darn kids. Not only have they contributed to the [url=http://pitchforkmedia.com/record-reviews/sdtk/spongebob-squarepants/spongebob-squarepants.shtml]SpongeBob SquarePants
[/url] soundtrack in recent times (along with The Shins, Motorhead, and Ween), but they have become one of the most well-regarded independant musical acts in quite awhile. That is, until you realize that they're on Warner Brothers and have appeard on Beverly Hills 90210
. Really, though, this doesn't have much to do with their actual music, but I guess that is why I'm subjecting you to a whole pararagraph or so of hardly useful information. Heck, that is what makes the Flaming Lips so great anyway.
One thing that stands out on Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
is probably the title itself, presented in bold letters above a psuedo-anime image of a girl standing before tangerine-colored robots. They don't look so pink to me. As I have browsed this here internet, reading a fair amount of reviews that offer some vague explanations of the whole "concept" of this barely-conceptual album, I have come to the conclusion that the whole storyline doesn't matter much when we all boil it down to the bare essentials. What Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
is, though, is really just another miraculous tale of one's conscious, the tired life/death scenario, and just about anything you can conjure up. The options are infinite for pretentious interpretations, but I guess you could think of that as a good thing if you really
From the start of the introduction track "Fight Test", the Flaming Lips' production values come in full force. Odd digital effects, alien-beeps that sound like a retarded bumble bee, dense and somewhat-layered guitar tracks, and most importantly: the rhythm section. Each song employs melodic, sometimes shuddering bass lines and psuedo-hip-hop drum beats that hardly allow the instrumental disversity on this particular album to breathe at all. The acoustic guitars, though, make up for this by providing a breezy lightheartedness to just about every song, especially the near-cheesy-Polyphonic Spree-isms of "Do You Realize??", where Wayne Coyne sings of the joyful and the grim, but his airy and earnest voice adds a depth and lyrical heaviness to the songs. The earlier mentioned "Fight Test" tells a story of a timid figure, most likely Yoshimi, contemplating the thought of standing up to those pesky robots or to keep one's own morals and basic principles. The ones of pink, that is.
Elsewhere, the Lips practically enforce the same golden rule: jangly guitars, gorgeous melodies, bass lines, funky beats, orchestras, and just about everything else in between. "In the Morning of Magicians" morphs from massive grooving to majestic strings and "Coyneing", and it all just sounds Disneyesque. It falters, however, from the psuedo-philisophical pandering of the lyrics ("is to love just to hate? how can it matter?"), adding to the overall sap of the song even more. Thankfully, though, the melodies are the saving grace of not only the song, but the album as a whole. "Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell" is very similar to the previous, but with seizure-inducing bass line repitition, and no sign of dragging tempo changes and childish philosphy that plagued it's predessesor. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
eventually falls into a bad place to be: much of it, besides "Do You Realize??" falls into the psuedo-philisophical, and bland repitition trappings that, sadly, run the coarse of this album. "It's Summertime (Throbbing Orange Pallbearers)" just ruins the experience even more, where Wayne Coyne comes to a conclusion no more extraordinary than the time of the season, which I'm sure the Zombies have done much better in the past. Perplexing enough is the anti-climatic instrumental, "Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planita)". It breezes along with the only implication of distorted guitar in the whole album, and fails to capture the imagination and beauty that the rest of the album lets you in on. To put it simply, it's just a dissapointing way to close an album where you would expect a wonderful choral climax with mourning pianos and echoing guitars. Instead, we got this as a pile of steaming doggy poo.
In reality, despite all of the downfalls that plague this album like crack in Harlem, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
somehow comes out as a wonderful, melodic, ethearal album. Even when things start to look grim, Wayne Coyne somehow manages to bring the feeling of earnestness and subtle honesty that give the songs and extra dose of sugar. They may not be hypnotists, belly dancers, cosmic energy beams, ten-eyed fish, or the O.J. Simpson Trial, but they sure as Hell prove to be one of the most interesting bands to survive the millenium and even their own negativities as a functioning band, especially on this. Oh, and to Wayne: I suggest that you learn your way around the color wheel before you label those poor robot souls "pink". whatever happened to Civil Rights?
Yoshimi Battles the Not Particularly Orange, nor Anything Near Pink Robots