In it, he detailed — with a vague, yet purposeful candor — the internal struggles endured by both he and his bandmates, ruminating on a metaphysical desire for control over one’s life and, conversely, the self-inflicted, masochistic chaos that can often accompany it.
These pleas for understanding, he ultimately concluded, were nothing but exercises in futility; the belief that love would ultimately protect us from pain and confusion is nothing but a crude, misleading prospect. Given that this is a man who once reminded us that “the sun doesn’t go down,” his words were uncharacteristically bleak and jarring, but profound in their cognizance of life’s bitter realities.
And so, too, is The Terror – the Oklahoma City band’s most estranged and disorienting album to date. If Embryonic, along with its ensuing bevy of collaborations and unconventional release methods, represented a rebirth of inquiry and experimentation, The Terror is the consummate realization of these ideas.
When taken as a whole, the disc reveals itself as a supremely focused, interconnected homage to the droning Krautrock of decades past, unraveling through the lens of an unsettling paranoia incurred by the loss of love and a distressing relapse.
It’s the Lips’ most absorbing statement since The Soft Bulletin. Perhaps more importantly, The Terror serves a striking reminder that, 30 years into their career, The Flaming Lips have preserved their creative relevance in the face of adversity. —Zach Hale
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