At War With The Mystics


Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37
  1. Whatever thematic consistency existed on Yoshimi or Soft Bulletin is completely absent here. Or just so vague and bloated that the sentiment’s useless.
  2. The Flaming Lips' most effortless and varied exploration of their charming and profound tongue to date.
  3. That it’s a certainty for inclusion in critical end-of-year top tens is a given.
  4. It's astonishing how the band are unafraid to take on Serious Issues yet remain so much fun.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. At War With the Mystics falls short of being a masterpiece, but the more you listen to it, the more it adds up.
  8. 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.
  9. A wonderful record that is flawed - that'll be those flatulent synths again - but by design.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. The earthbound, anxious and somewhat pissed-off attitude is what stands out and makes the strongest impression.
  14. 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.
  15. 100
    Tak[es] on the state of global affairs in a way that is both surprisingly direct yet somehow reassuringly weird.
  16. This is a band that, rightfully, just sounds tired.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Their most organic-sounding album since 1995's "Clouds Taste Metallic."
  20. It covers too much ground, spreads its inventive energies too thin.
  21. This is the sound of a band run dry.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Under The Radar
    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]
  25. Los Angeles Times
    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]
  26. Uncut
    Make no mistake, the Lips have done it: three astonishing LPs in a row. [May 2006, p.94]
  27. Mojo
    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]
  28. Q Magazine
    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]
  29. Alternative Press
    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]
  30. 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.
  31. Blender
    While their protest cries tilt feebly into goofball psychedelic funk, a lush poignancy bubbles up on the more ruminative tracks. [May 2006, p.110]
  32. Urb
    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]
  33. Rolling Stone
    The Lips' spacious attack feels a little tired. [6 Apr 2006, p.64]
  34. Filter
    Each consecutive [song] is stranger than the last. [#19, p.88]
  35. Spin
    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]
  36. Entertainment Weekly
    Much of the CD is both beautiful and heartfelt. [7 Apr 2006, p.59]
  37. At War with the Mystics is as accessibly odd as Yoshimi but more scattered and darker.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 151 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 73 out of 100
  2. Negative: 8 out of 100
  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. Jun 20, 2016
    Good.Good. . Full Review »
  3. 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 »