It's all too easy to survey the exploits of the Flaming Lips' last few years - composing synchronized iPhone symphonies, auctioning off human skulls and writing songs for Ke$ha - and ask, "Hey, remember when they used to be a band?" Well, The Terror serves as a rejoinder to the criticism that the long-running Oklahoma group has become nothing but a gimmick.
Their first non-collaborative LP since 2009's Embryonic and 13th overall, The Terror is one of the bleakest, most intense albums the Flaming Lips have ever recorded, with very little of frontman Wayne Coyne's trademark whimsy peeking between the cracks of heavy, bad-trip psychedelia. Instead, songs unfold slowly and eerily, all distorted synths, claustrophobic drones and chilly melodies.
Embryonic first presented this sound in a loose, underwritten form, but The Terror crafts that chaos into a careful, impeccably sequenced compositions that should buy Coyne at least a few more years of guilt-free wackiness.
Top track: You Lust