February 3, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 21°F


Review: Band’s sound goes up in flames

"Peace Sword"

The Flaming Lips

Psychedelic synths, pounding dance beats and strained vocals all converge in the opening title track of The Flaming Lips’ new EP, “Peace Sword.” Featured as part of the “Ender’s Game” soundtrack, “Peace Sword” is loosely based on both the Orson Scott Card novel and its film adaptation. It plays as a concept album, featuring themes of isolation and desperation associated with the science-fiction novel.

<iframe style=”float: right;” src=”https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:user:1254760088:playlist:7v9fATYqgBTn4PMIysPTcQ” height=”380″ width=”300″ frameborder=”0″></iframe>

The Lips are notorious for their eclectic sound and ability to give experimental music mainstream appeal, as with their pivotal release of 2009’s “Embryonic.” But after “Embryonic,” their music began to fall to their typical nuances of odd synth sounds and psychedelic rock, while also losing the pop appeal of songs that made them famous, like 2002’s “Do You Realize??”

While it’s true that the band has defined its sound clearly, it is stagnant and uninspired in “Peace Sword.” Every style employed in this new EP — from thundering drums and orchestral swells to high pitched lyrics about space and existentialism — has already been done in their earlier releases. The Lips have, for once, done nothing new here.

Still, “Peace Sword” is a highly entertaining release, carrying listeners along a narrative storyline. The Lips have mastered their art, employing moments of musical intensity in songs like “Wolf Children” against soft ballads in songs such as “Is the Black At the End Good.”

Even though “Peace Sword” falls short of previous albums, it does accomplish something new. Few bands in mainstream music today are fit for scoring a science novel like “Ender’s Game,” but The Flaming Lips come close, finding the space between heartfelt-pop and experimental-rock music.