The Flaming Lips – The Terror
To say “The Terror” is experimental is an understatement. At best, it’s a challenging listen that will grow on you. At worst, it’s 55 minutes of torture.
What happened to the Flaming Lips? Well, frontman Wayne Coyne has reached the point where he can do absolutely anything he wants and people will buy it.
“The Terror” is weird but not in a Flaming-Lips-of-yore way. Coyne is no stranger to avant-garde wackiness – see the Boombox Experiment and the four-disc “Zaireeka.” “The Terror” is downtrodden, monotonous and depressing, with little to no guitar.
The pretentious album sounds like a transmission from outer space. This is coming from a critic who has seen the Lips 8 times, beginning with a show in 1993 in which they opened – yes opened – for the Gin Blossoms.
However, you can give credit to the Flaming Lips for this: there is nothing like “The Terror” on the music scene now. Maybe it’s better on vinyl? Under the influence of weed?
1 spoon out of 5
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have evolved drastically since their loud and crazy first LP “Fever to Tell.” As the Brooklyn band enters its teenage years – the YYYs formed in 2000 – singer Karen O., guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase mostly move away from that supercharged rock sound, trading it for more subdued vocals and melodies.
“Mosquito” is notably different. Not as fun, but equally creative. Rather than scream her heart out like in the past, Karen O. sings softly, echoing the soothing styles of recent singers like Lykke Li and First Aid Kit’s Johanna and Klara Soderberg.
Lyrical motifs include religion and death. But it’s not all slow tempo. The band does rock out on songs like the title track and “Area 52,” throwing a bone to fans of the freakout rock version of the band.
3 spoons out of 5
The Thermals – Desperate Ground
Four words describe The Thermals. Super. Fun. Happy. Music.
You know what you’re in for with a Thermals album. Short and punchy 3-minute songs. Indie pop with a punk sensibility. Heartfelt lyrics. Lo-fi, intentionally distorted vocals. And fuzz-drenched guitar undoubtedly created with the band’s awesome Orange amplifiers, which they use onstage to create their signature sound.
The most underrated and hard-working band in indie rock unleashes their 6th album today. “Desperate Ground” is pure fun in a field of overly complicated indie rock. With The Thermals, simplicity is key. And their point of view as musicians is exquisite.
Hailing from Portland, OR – the newly minted hipster capital of the world – The Thermals are indeed hip, but not in a snobby, art-school kind of way. They’re down to earth and onstage they look as if they are having a ball 100 percent of the time.
After a stint on Sub Pop, the band is now labelmates with Bright Eyes and The Faint on Saddle Creek Records. On “Desperate Ground,” The Thermals drip with happiness like an underground and hip take on Weezer.
This one isn’t littered with religious or political commentary, like the 2006 concept album “The Body, The Blood, The Machine” – which is one of that decade’s best. It’s merely made up of short bursts of joy.
Not the greatest offering from the band, but still fun all the way.
3 spoons out of 5