* (out of four)
In recent years, the Flaming Lips have worked hard to sacrifice the maximum amount of their once-abundant goodwill by making their music synonymous with weird stunt releases and overwrought visual accompaniments. In the sense that the band's latest album, “The Terror,” doesn't arrive encased in a neon-painted ostrich egg or recorded as a transcription of a brain wave or delivered via submarine, it's a success. “The Terror” puts focus on the band's music and thoroughly explores its central theme.
It's unclear, however, where the appeal lies in listening to an album interested in embodying creeping dread and lingering terror – particularly one that evokes those emotions with monotonous, texture-less drone songs. If you're truly dedicated to sitting through a deadening, unchanging experience that takes single-note ideas and carries them on for way too long, you may want to try these experimental art installations I like to call "Having a Job" or "Winter in Chicago."
Assuming you opt to listen to “The Terror” instead, you will find lengthy spells of tedium like the 13-minute, three-note riff of “You Lust” or the grating “You Are Alone,” which sounds like the part in every bad horror movie trailer where a little girl starts acting creepy. There are moments like the heavy bass riffs in the second half of “Butterfly, How Long It Takes to Die” and “Turning Violent” that promise to jar you out of complacency, but they are frustratingly brief.
It may be less obnoxious than the band's constant parade of provocative extra-musical ideas, but this album's single-minded devotion to unpleasantness is too on-the-mark to be enjoyable.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic
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