Creating such a uniquely brilliant album, such as they did with “The Soft Bulletin,” is a hard act to follow. But, The Flaming Lips, armed with their keyboards and synthesizers have once again set the bar for artistic gems. Wayne and company have shown that these sensitive boys have evolved their expression and activated their experimentation to put out another creative album in a time of clone rock. They have truly become architects of sound, piecing together electronic beats and random sounds to fit with acoustic guitars, flutes, and Wayne’s soothing yet fragile vocals.
“Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” is an album of many layers. They have based the theme on a rather pessimistic mood of uncertainty and technological chill. Many of the songs contain elements of sadness, combated by Wayne’s hope of retrieval to a time of love and sensitivity. He is, in a sense, teaching us how to be better humans by citing examples of selfishness and emotional amputation. He brightens his observations by repeating the idea of the now being the most important moment. All of the songs on this album have the common, symphonic core that ties them all together, and should be listened to in its entirety to get the full feel of their vision.
The album starts with “Fight Test,” an experiment in growth. It is an acoustic pop blueprint with electronic supports. They explain the transition from boy to man, in the sense that you should fight for what you love and believe in. He wonders when is the time to let things be, and when you should turn from the passive and fight. It is a beautiful song of question and spotlights Wayne’s greatest strength, his fearless honesty. One of the strongest elements of this album is present at beginning of the next song. “One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21.” The flow through the space at the beginning of this song perfectly sets up the somber mood of a “synthetic kind of love.” This love is spreading and Wayne insists on breaking past the dull and heartless, to find the real love that we should feel. The pink robots, an interesting parallel to heartless humans, need to be defeated to restore emotional stability. This song is very strong in conveying a feel of dominating technological emotions.
As if a mini epic story exists neatly folded within the album, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1,” introduces our hero, Yoshimi in a more conventional sounding pop song. Maybe the catchiest song on the album, it sets us up for the most artistically interesting experiment on the album. “Yoshimi…pt2.” It is here that the have actually simulated a battle with robotic sounds, keyboard effects, and loud screaming. With pulsating thumps and whistles, they made an otherwise interesting, yet unlistenable exhibit, into a rhythmic change of pace. It was a pleasant surprise.
“In the Morning of the Magicians,” and “Do You Realize,” will spread to the widest audiences, compared to any other on the album. These two songs have it all. Gentle, melodic lyrics, symphonic backgrounds and chants, and their ever-growing skills with electronic sound, all blended together with perfection.
The one shining star of optimism that actually breaks the mood without disturbing the album is “Its Summertime.” This song was written for a time of despair in hopes of seeing past inner pain and noticing the beauty in the air. Very poppy and melodic, this song bounces form start to finish, hoping to create a smile on the way.
All in all this album is a great artistic feat, exploring many realms left darkened by so many artists before them. Fans of “Soft Bulletin,” can’t expect much better than that, but nonetheless will still love this album. People unfamiliar with the Flaming Lips should become acquainted soon.