The Flaming Lips started out in the 1980s creating an anarchic, punky din, but eventually the psychedelic influences that had always been a major element of the band's sound became more prevalent. In 1994, after significant lineup changes, the Oklahoma group scored a hit album with TRANSMISSIONS FROM THE SATELLITE HEART. By the turn of the decade, the Lips had mutated into a quirky but accessible outfit skillfully blending alt-rock with '60s psych-pop influences, and in 1999 reached a peak with the towering sonic statement THE SOFT BULLETIN. Their following album, YOSHIMI BATTLES PINK ROBOTS, furthered its predecessor's aesthetic and vaulted the Lips to even more recognition, giving them a rare artistic-freedom-equals-success story rivaled only by Radiohead.
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, The Flaming Lips' long awaited follow-up to 1999's The Soft Bulletin. Guest artist Yoshimi P-we plays with psyche-noise-experimental group the Boredoms and leads her own band OOIOO. The Yoshimi in the songs, however, is a fictional character. 11 tracks. 2002.
As these dimpled moptops from Oklahoma grow pepper-bearded and transform into wizened elder statesmen of sonic adventuring, the heartfelt candy of their loving bubblegum stretches ever longer into echoing soundscapes. If Radiohead are halfway to becoming U2, the Flaming Lips are nine-tenths of the way to pop nirvana. Hardly a song on Yoshimi isn't resonated, echoed, and reverberated--floating the listener higher until they have the ultimate bird's-eye view of what makes a great band tick. As with any album by the band, it's hard not to imagine parades and a sky filled with helium balloons while you listen to any of it--in this case, the party is enhanced brilliantly by digital filters and silver shimmering asides. The most immediate songs, like "One More Robot (3000-21)," are digital (almost trip-hop) dance numbers that lift the band out of the cornfields and into the loopy land of Björk. Little surprise, then, that the band are already following up this majestic splash of gummy bear brilliance by recording a CD with kids' TV show host Steve from Blue's Clues. It's like Woodstock meets Snoopy! --Ian Christe
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