The Flaming Lips 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots' (2002)
This week’s feature album serves as perfect neo-psychedelic escapism given the current national circumstances. Although they had been together since 1993, 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots' sees the band renew themselves for another decade, and in the process delivered one of the most instantly likeable rock albums of the 2000s.
The album follows the band's other seminal release, 'The Soft Bulletin', but Yoshimi sees the band hone in on all prior ideas and sounds presented alongside the loose concept of Yoshimi (our protagonist), defeating evil robots threatening the city, world, etc. Nevertheless, the band delivers in spades on their trademark sound, which is cleaner and sharper than ever before. TFL also aimed to channel contemporary influences on the record, just see this interview from vocalist Wayne Coyne to see the how and why.
The album is heralded as a classic for a reason. It expands on the obvious Beatles influence with the creative layering of electronics, with a knack for writing these beautiful, soaring sequences of instrumental joy. These passages often mould around simple, gorgeous melodies, which then evolve and expand in subtle, clever ways. Just take the gorgeous ‘It’s Summertime’ to hear how the band runs with ideas.
The progression of songs is natural, but they never grow tired in their prolonged dwelling on simple musical ideas. ‘Are You a Hypnotist??’ and ‘In the Morning of the Magicians’ see the band take meditative reservations in releasing the tension, choosing a slower pace with quieter notions of rock. Which make the albums star and fan favourite ‘Do You Realise??’ shine brighter than ever. The church bells and synths burst with life to create one of the most tasteful expansions on Beatlisms to date. Coyne delivers passionate yet human vocals to soothe and carry the acoustic elements to swirl and build over the backing choir, leading the song to triumph as it ushers in both the final leg of the album and the Flaming Lips cementing themselves as alt-rock heroes.
Yoshimi acts as the touchstone for the bands' discography. Between its unique concept, stunning blends of sounds, and likeable, catchy songwriting, it serves as one of the best albums of the 2000s. With restocks of both Yoshimi and The Soft Bulletin Live available, now is the perfect time to dive into the Flaming Lips in all their colourful, acid-bathed glory.
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