At War With The Mystics - The Flaming Lips

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37
  1. 100
    Tak[es] on the state of global affairs in a way that is both surprisingly direct yet somehow reassuringly weird.
  2. 100
    Make no mistake, the Lips have done it: three astonishing LPs in a row. [May 2006, p.94]
  3. 92
    Each consecutive [song] is stranger than the last. [#19, p.88]
  4. Coyne is a shrewd observer of human nature, and an even shrewder songwriter and this album stands as his greatest and most varied work yet.
  5. While Wayne Coyne has been carving out and presenting to the world the manifestations of his crazy mind for an age now, the possibilities have so often been superior to the finished article. That is certainly not the case here.
  6. The Flaming Lips' most effortless and varied exploration of their charming and profound tongue to date.
  7. That it’s a certainty for inclusion in critical end-of-year top tens is a given.
  8. The wondrous beauty of Yoshimi hasn't been abandoned entirely... but the fighting spirit throughout At War With The Mystics is what truly sustains it. [#13, p.85]
  9. What makes At War With the Mystics different is spontaneity -- and not spontaneity in a jazz sense. Listening to this album you get the feeling that absolutely anything could happen -- as if it's taking final form only as it reverberates off your eardrums.
  10. The weird part is how well this stuff holds together, a delirious jumble of android psychedelia and Coyne's elliptical wordplay that goes down as easily as warm milk (spiked with acid). [26 Mar 2006]
  11. The earthbound, anxious and somewhat pissed-off attitude is what stands out and makes the strongest impression.
  12. 83
    At War is gnarlier and a bit less tuneful than the group's previous two CDs. But the arrangements, and Dave Fridmann's signature blend of clarity and overmodulation, remain intricately weird. [Apr 2006, p.89]
  13. At War With The Mystics is impossible to digest in a single listen; it's a true headphone album that demands attention and rewards the patient with unexpected delights.
  14. At War With the Mystics falls short of being a masterpiece, but the more you listen to it, the more it adds up.
  15. It's astonishing how the band are unafraid to take on Serious Issues yet remain so much fun.
  16. Ultimately, if a Flaming Lips didn't include a high degree of experimentation, you'd be disappointed. Yet when they keep things simple, such as the closing piano led Goin' On, the results are magnificent.
  17. 80
    A record of jarring juxtapositions, a bunch of cool tunes that could[n't] care less about how they fit together. [Apr 2006, p.86]
  18. Ever wonder what an all-star band featuring Burt Bacharach, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd would sound like stoned on the final reel of 2001: A Space Odyssey? [May 2006, p.172]
  19. A wonderful record that is flawed - that'll be those flatulent synths again - but by design.
  20. It's a record that might even disappoint on first listen, but one that reveals many subtleties and wonders over time. [May 2006, p.118]
  21. Much of the CD is both beautiful and heartfelt. [7 Apr 2006, p.59]
  22. Coyne and company may have reached the limits of what cartoon universalism can do, but beneath the random bombast on Mystics--which frequently sounds like Steely Dan as heard from the other end of a machine shop--there's some Pink Floyd-styled moodiness and '70s singer-songwriter melodicism that suggests new areas for the band to explore.
  23. At War with the Mystics is as accessibly odd as Yoshimi but more scattered and darker.
  24. While it’s not another masterpiece, it does surpass much of the group’s previous work, which it sounds related to, but not similar to.
  25. Their most organic-sounding album since 1995's "Clouds Taste Metallic."
  26. Sonically, the album picks up exactly where the Lips left off with Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: heavy on the pop psychedelics, occasionally odd without being inaccessible.
  27. The way that Mystics bounces back and forth between its ethereal and zany moments gives it a disjointed, uneven feel that makes the album a shade less satisfying than either Yoshimi or Soft Bulletin.
  28. 70
    While their protest cries tilt feebly into goofball psychedelic funk, a lush poignancy bubbles up on the more ruminative tracks. [May 2006, p.110]
  29. 70
    Mystics still has plenty of weird, shining moments to solidify the band's unique spot in rock, but the schizophrenia may leave you a bit jarred. [Apr 2006, p.84]
  30. While the band has always played around with a variety of sounds, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of songwriting, most of Mystics doesn't measure up.
  31. The Lips' spacious attack feels a little tired. [6 Apr 2006, p.64]
  32. The strongest feeling I get from At War With The Mystics is that it's a wank riddled parody amalgam of The Flaming Lips back catalogue, focusing on the earlier stuff.
  33. Whatever thematic consistency existed on Yoshimi or Soft Bulletin is completely absent here. Or just so vague and bloated that the sentiment’s useless.
  34. This is a band that, rightfully, just sounds tired.
  35. This is the sound of a band run dry.
  36. It covers too much ground, spreads its inventive energies too thin.
  37. Those farty sounds and the guy with the deeeeeeeeeep voice on "It Overtakes Me" are called "bells and whistles." That's what bands do when they don't have anything to say.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 143 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 80 out of 99
  2. Negative: 8 out of 99
  1. Feb 7, 2013
    This album is an overlooked masterpiece. It has the sort of kookiness the Flaming Lips can boast about while mixing in deeper, more melodicThis album is an overlooked masterpiece. It has the sort of kookiness the Flaming Lips can boast about while mixing in deeper, more melodic songs. "Mr. Ambulance driver" is a fantastically emotional song while "W.A.N.D." is an electric anthem of empowerment. The opening track is odd, but completely wonderful. There's a lot of atmosphere on this album and some people might find the lulls unpleasant, but when looked at as a whole and not just a collection of songs it's hard not to reflect on the beauty of it all. Full Review »
  2. Jan 4, 2014
    This album is good, but doesn't quite reach the high watermark presented the band's previous releases. A lot of the songs just seem likeThis album is good, but doesn't quite reach the high watermark presented the band's previous releases. A lot of the songs just seem like regular, quickly-dashed-off indie pop songs that, had they been more developed, may have been much better. There are so many average songs that have a really good song at the center, but are smothered by the silliness and giddiness of the lyrics and instrumentation. THERE, I SAID IT. THIS ALBUM IS TOO DAMN HAPPY. Apparently the band realized this, as their next release, Embryonic, was amazing as well as bleak and sort of depressing. Then they again went a little too far with the music found on The Terror, but this is not a review of that album (which is a little better than this one). Anyway, this release is a interesting but ultimately disappointing one from a great band who have rectified this mistake with their albums Embryonic and the underrated Heady Fwends. Full Review »
  3. Sep 3, 2011
    To be honest, I didn't like this album as much at first. The Flaming Lips are my favorite band, and this album just didn't do it for me atTo be honest, I didn't like this album as much at first. The Flaming Lips are my favorite band, and this album just didn't do it for me at first.

    Then I listened to it again.

    While "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" can certainly be annoying to many who haven't listened to The Flaming Lips, its a very clever song I think, along with many of the other songs on this album. Mr. Ambulance Driver is another great song, about someone who wishes he could be in his friend's place. The Flaming Lips, between The Soft Bulletin and this album have this overarching theme of love, and At War With The Mystics continues it, with, as I said, Mr. Ambulance Driver, My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion, and Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung. As others have said, it certainly is different from other Lips' albums, but nonetheless great. More electronic than the others, and more strange. Personally I don't think there's anything wrong with the album. Its no Soft Bulletin, but its not bad, like everyone seems to be saying. I would go so far to say that its actually pretty good.
    Full Review »