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Liner Notes: CD reviews

 published on Thursday, April 20, 2006


The Flaming Lips
At War With the Mystics
(Warner Brothers)
Three and a half out of five stars

Listening to a Flaming Lips record is a lot like attending a college film festival: You're expecting it to be completely weird and you know you probably won't understand the artists' "vision," but for some reason you like it anyway. At War With The Mystics marks 20 years of experimental sounds and enigmatic lyrics from the Flaming Lips. On this album, Wayne Coyne toys with a wide range of vocal styles, while the rest of the band alternates tempos, instruments and electronic noises so consistently that "eclectic" may be the only accurate description. "The W.A.N.D." is a key track, sort of the aural equivalent of 1970s films about the future. Fortunately, most songs on this album are as catchy as they are weird. --

Hello Young Lovers
(In The Red)
Four out of five stars

Imagine if two of the oompah-loompahs from Willy Wonka's chocolate factory listened to a lot of the Buzzcocks and Mates of State and decided to get together to form a band. This would give you a general idea of how Sparks sound, though on this album the band is joined by a drummer and an additional guitarist. The main duo, which has been around an astonishing 35 years, writes piano-driven, tongue-in-cheek poppy ballads about topics ranging from aliens to politics. Songs typically approach the five minute mark. This can be hard to handle during some of the more repetitive tracks ("Perfume"), but is usually hardly noticeable with all of the tempo and mood changes ("Dick Around"). The album falls on the artsy side of music without becoming pretentious or inaccessible for a simple good listen.

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