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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Flaming Lips -- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots


8/10

I think Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is altogether a better album than The Soft Bulletin. I think it suffered critically, though not very much, by comparison because it came second. In truth, it repairs most of The Soft Bulletin's flaws. Wayne Coyne dials back his vocals, singing far better, and using far less affectations. His lyrics aren't so cloying this time, either. He's still obsessed with the most basic big question/answer combos in the universe, though. He sings the line, "Do you realize that everyone you know some day will die?" as if he is the first person to ever realize it. He named the song, "Do You Realize?" for a reason.
The arrangements here are far more distinct and less sticky than the The Soft Bulletin's, and the band sound more like they are attempting to craft a great album rather than just tinkering around with new toys.
I somehow picked Yoshimi up used from a Warehouse Music (which was once a Blockbuster Music and now is an FYE) mere months after it was released, and for only $3.99. For that price, it was a steal, and on the first listens, I was convinced that Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was perfect.
The album's sound perfectly matches that of a child's fantasy novel mixed with a throwback science fiction film. The opening four tracks are about as good a start as an album can get. The slower, dreamier middle section seems too good to be true. It took me a few weeks to realize that I had been ejecting the CD out of my car player after track seven on every listen. Track eight always booted up at the end of my commute, just as I was pulling up into the LSU parking lot to go to class and turning off my car. Every time I'd get back in to leave at the end of the day, I would subconsciously eject Yoshimi and put in something else. I finally caught myself doing this one day, and realized the reaction I was having, which can best be summed up by just-reviewed band Five Iron Frenzy's lyricist, Reese Roper, on their song "Ugly Day." "All the flowers and the birds make me feel smothered."
Even though I really love the start of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, it eventually just wears me out with its own good-naturedness, kind of like a dog that keeps jumping in your lap no matter where you sit. The last four songs are okay, especially the instrumental closer, "Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon." Good thing it's instrumental, though, because by that point, I'm ready to sock Wayne Coyne in the face just so I can go back to bed.
Sorry, Wayne.

2002 Warner Bros.
1. Fight Test 4:14
2. One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21 4:59
3. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1 4:45
4. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 2 2:57
5. In the Morning of the Magicians 6:18
6. Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell 4:34
7. Are You a Hypnotist?? 4:44
8. It's Summertime 4:20
9. Do You Realize?? 3:33
10. All We Have Is Now 3:53
11. Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon 3:09

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