Given The Flaming Lips’ recent cavorting with Ke$ha and goofy yet underrated Heady Fwends
release, it makes sense that on the band’s latest album they retreat further into the black holes explored on 2009’s remarkable Embryonic
. The Terror
can occasionally be true to its name, on tracks like the frightening, 13-minute “You Lust,” which creeps out with a giallo-esque vibe and steam-emitting, krautrock beat, but also sort of kills the album’s momentum early on and leads into spiraling explorations. However, return visits to The Terror
reveal an album with flowers mired in the muck. “Be Free, A Way” and “Try to Explain” house some of the Lips’ most aching melodies. Flipping around to individual tracks offers an occasionally more affecting experience than listening to the whole thing through, as the title track, for instance, has a sort of bluesy swagger delivered in cult-link environs, hiding underneath its squelching electronics and heaving synths, that sounds exhausting over six minutes coming off “You Lust” but can be completely engrossing when taken on its own. “Turning Violent” is a big, slow-moving pop opus that moves into similarly epic closer “Always There…In Our Hearts,” a track whose big drums and vocals echoing out into infinity begs to be heard live. Overall it won’t exactly win new fans into the Flaming Lips fold, but for anyone who may have been afraid the group was losing its edge to pop collaborations and brightly colored live shows, The Terror
is a not so subtle reminder of just how strange, powerful and insular the band can sound.