AT WAR WITH THE CRITICS
The Flaming Lips new album, At War With the Mystics was released not too long ago, and already it's being killed by backlash. In fact, the album was in bad shape before even hitting the shelves, because of the good ol' internet leaks. I don't understand why, though. The album is pretty great, and definitely better than their last full length, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
So why the bad press? Well, I think part of it is attributable to "Yoshimi" and the backlash that it endured. When it was first released in July of 2002, it received high praise, widely considered one of the best of a year that saw several fantastic releases. Soon after, maybe six months or a year to be exact, the album stopped being praised and people took a step back and realized what they were saying.
When you first listen to Yoshimi, it's a great album, sure. When I first listened to Yoshimi I was obsessed with it. But after each progressive listen, you start to realize that it really isn't that great, outside of a few tracks ("Fight Test," and the title track especially). I think it's safe to say that the quick judgment occured with the majority of critics and fans. Hell, pitchfork rated it as an 8.4 out of a possible 10.
"Yoshimi" also pales in comparison to the two prior albums, Clouds Taste Metallic and The Soft Bulletin. So with objectivity and perspective taking control, it was easy to see that "Yoshimi" was not quite as good as had originally been thought.
So why does "Yoshimi's" backlash have to continue with this new album? Well, partially because it kind of sounds like a combination of the past two albums (Yoshimi and Bulletin), and probably because the backlash is still in the back (or front) of people's minds. Pitchfork, perhaps trying to compensate for it's overrating of "Yoshimi," deemed "Mysics" a lackluster 6.4, much worse than that of "Yoshimi," despite the fact that it is pretty objectively better than it's predecessor.
For all of it's flaws, and there are some (overproduction, song length, and silliness), At War With the Mystics is a fine album, and deserves more credit than it is receiving.
Flaming Lips' myspace (with tracks from the new album)
Flaming Lips' Official Site