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Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was released in 2002 and produced by S Booker, it was released through Time Warner and is 47 and a half minutes of surreal psychadelic pop fronted by the marvellous Wayne Coyne. The Flaming Lips have always been an enjoyable band for me, at festivals I love the fact they dress up as Animals, it really makes me chuckle and always goes down well with the crowds. This album is possibly their most radio friendly following on from the critically acclaimed Soft Bulletin. The album is a concept album...I think about our hero, Yoshimi a young girl who battles evil pink robots, the title track is the best on the album for me mixing a gentle bassline and beat with Coynes lovely vocals, its such a beautiful mellow tune I always turn to it when I need to relax. Other stand out tunes include the melodic flight Test which mixes folk and dance and the strange, 'Do you realize' which is a beautiful song...about death. This reminds me of a fun version of Pink Floyd as the band come up with a lovely concept and let their imaginations run wild, if you remember Justin Timberlake dressed as a Dolphin on Top of the Pops playing bass on Yoshimi battles the Pink Robots this tells you all you need to know about the band and their willingness to mix it up. Overall i'd give this album 4 out of 5, its my favourite Flaming Lips album, the above songs are my three favourites but 'Are you a hypnotist' and 'All we have is now' also stand out, beneath the concept is an amazing album and in the concept is a wonderous imagination which deserves wider exposure. Track List: Fight Test One more robot/Sympathy 3000-21 Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt 1 Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt 2 In the Morning of the Magicians Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell Are you a Hypnotist? It's Summertime Do you Realize? All we have is now Approaching Pavonia Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia) The album can be purchased on Amazon for £4.65, check out Yoshimi battles the Pink Robots for a taste of the album and then decide if you like it, if you do download the album, or buy it from Marketplace for less than £1.50. This is a fun album which really does relax you and take you away to another time and place, its a throwback in many ways but is absolutely brilliant and well worth a listen.
I bought this after hearing the title track, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, when it was being played on Radio One quite a lot several years back and this is easily the best album I have heard from The Lips out of the three that I have listened to. Starting with Fight Test, which sounds awfully similar to Cat Steven's Father And Son in places, and ending with the chilled-out number, Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia), the album is a joy to listen to from start to finish and has some truly memorable tracks on it that will keep you humming away for days to come. Like I say, the album begins with Fight Test which is a great place to begin with its catchy lyrics and its very quirky ending which gives the track its name. This then breaks into One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21 which is a softly softly tale of two machines falling in love, the theme of robots and machines playing a big part of the whole albums concept. This is the kind of song you could imagine being played in the background of a Japanese Anime film and this too is a recurring theme. The whole album here has a very Anime feel to it which is only complimented by the very surreal and clever artwork that accompanies the album on its cover art. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1 is perhaps one of their greatest known tracks of all time ( apart from perhaps The La La Laaa song which was the best track on the album that that song came from or their collaboration that they did with The Chemical Brothers a few years later) and does exactly what it says on the tin. The lyrics here are simply sublime, "She's gotta be strong to fight them, so she's taking lots of vitamins..." being a prime example. Reminiscent of the original Godzilla movies or the equally low budget Ultra-Man film, it is a song that escapulates the whole Japanese culture and is amongst my favourite songs of all time! Still!! Part two is just an instrumental number designed to accompany part one and flows neatly in from the climax of the previous track and such there is very little to say about it. It does however feel a little unnessecary. In The Morning Of The Magicians and Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell come next and, though slightly less memorable than Yoshimi, are nonetheless still nice tracks that fit in with the ongoing feel. The next track that really strikes a chord with me is Are You A Hypnotist?? This is another cracking tune and there is very little I can say about it other than that I really enjoy listening to it but am never quite sure why. I can only say it has a comfortable sound that wraps around you like a warm blanket! It's Summertime comes next and that is followed by my second favourite track after Yoshimi which is Do You Realize?? This again has very poignant lyrics "Do you realise...that everyone you know someday will die...?" but if you think this sounds depressing you could not be further wrong!! The song then goes on to say "So instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know you realise time goes so fast, it's time to make the good times last" which, although may sound a little hedonistic, totally readjusts the way you think the song is going to go and carries a much subtler hidden message. It is all about making the most of the time that you have with a special person and not dwelling on the fact that we are all going to end up the same way, in a box, and I love the way the chorus ends with "You realise the sun doesn't go down; it's just an illusion caused by the earth spinning round..." This smacks of the artists struggling to find something to end the chorus that rhymes but you have to admire the way they have done it and it really does seem to work! It also gives the song the usual quirky Flaming Lips touch that appears to be their trademark! All We Have Is Now and Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia) bring the album to a chilled out and relaxed close and if they are a bit too chill-out, then that is no bad thing. Overall this is a highly imaginative and very talented album and if you are looking for something that is very different and yet cleverly unique, then this is defenitely for you!
This is my favourite album by the Flaming Lips. I particularly like the way the album's got an over-arching story, which revolves around (predictably) a young girl called Yoshimi being the hero of a war against some huge pink robots. Released in July 2002, Yoshimi is the 10th album released by the Flaming Lips since they formed in 1983. The entire album is in a kind of electronica/rock style, with thought-provoking lyrics throughout. Track listing, and my opinion of each song: 1. Fight Test: Great song, very uplifting, just a shame the first and last 10 seconds of the song don't really fit with the rest of it. 8/10 2. One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21: This is a slow song, and I find it works well as a kind of prelude to the war against the robots, detailing how the robots started to think and question what's going on. It's also got a nice, orchestral-style ending. 9/10 3. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1: Being the title song for the album, you'd expect this to be good... and it is. It introduces the character of Yoshimi through good lyrics, a catchy tune, and random robot-y sound effects. 11/10 (Extra points for rhyming "Fight them" with "Vitamins"). 4. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 2: I'm not a fan of this track. It seems to represent the actual fight between Yoshimi and the robots, and as such is very beat heavy, and full of sound effects. There's lots of cheering at the end, at the same time as the heavy beat music stops, so I assume the beat represents the robots, and the cheering is the crowd after Yoshimi defeats them. 5/10 5. In the Morning of the Magicians: This is another slow, nice track. It begins with the cheering from the previous track, and goes on to describe the aftermath of the battle. As ever with this album, there are some random sound effects, but unlike the previous track, these make the song better, not worse. 8/10 6. Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell: I find the beat too heavy on this song, the lyrics seem thoughtful, and the main tune complements that well, but the deep bass line is too strong to really let you get into the song. 6/10 7. Are You a Hypnotist??: Another orchestral starter here, this is an odd song. In a way, it seems like they're pressing random keys on a keyboard to start with, it's only when the song gets going you realise it's well planned out. A bit too slow for my liking at the beginning, but aptly it is a quite hypnotic track. It really picks up towards the end, and leads well into the next track. 7/10 8. It's Summertime: Another good use of sound effects here, it even has birds chirping at the beginning. Good lyrics and a nice tune make this one of the better songs on the album. The only real downside is the ending, which just seems to be each instrument stopping one at a time. It could be a minute shorter, and still a great song 8/10 9. Do You Realize??: This is my second favourite song from the album (after the title track, pt1), and was the song that got me into the Flaming Lips in the first place. It's a strange track, with an uplifting tune, but slightly depressing lyrics. 9/10 10. All We Have Is Now: This is a strange song if you listen with headphones. To start with, the music's only on the right side, and the lyrics on the left. Another thought provoker. 7/10 11. Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia): This is another instrumental track, and full of sound effects. Not the best ending to an album I've ever heard, but it works well, especially if you consider the sound effects may be the beginning of a new robot uprising, thus making the album go full circle. To summarise, if you like random sound effects, and albums that make you think about things, this is for you. If you're looking for a cheery "everything's OK" album, get something else.
But before it does, some facts about The Flaming Lips. They have been around for 20 years or more, making them "far too old" for this rock business. Mainman Wayne Coyne has a very large head. He needs it for playing and singing on, and writing the lyrics for, CDs such as this and The Soft Bulletin, their 1999 effort, which is another classic (allegedly, theediscerning hasn't caught up with it yet.) Wayne also directs their videos. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is co-produced by Dave Fridmann, who is well known (ish) for making Mercury Rev sound so angelic and orchestral. The Flaming Lips live have been known to feature more people dressed in silly animal costumes than a whole series of Trigger Happy TV. This disc was barely out of theediscerning's CD player tray for a couple months at the end of last year. Put this down to laziness, or just the brilliance of the music, but the vote should be for the latter. Uncut declared Yoshimi... CD of 2002, and so does theediscerning. Theediscerning bought it in a promo edition, with just a card wallet, so cannot comment on packaging, full credits, lyric sheet or lack thereof. Anyway, that just about brings us to pop the CD in the discman and get typing... The Test Begins... Now. Track One - Fight Test. Rather a swinging, 60s-ish opener, with decent harmonies and lyrics about how to appear before your intended loved one - cool and aloof, or brave and therefore less romantic. Key instrument - no idea what it is, really, but it makes a great noise theediscerning can't spell. Track Two - One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21. (You'll have to get used to titles like these if you want to be a Flaming Lips fan (and you do, you do.)) A spacey longeur of an opening eventually finds a quiet little groove, which itself develops into a love song about a robot with burgeoning emotions of the love kind. Again, m ore than a bit retro, but great stuff. It collapses into the quiet, ambient wishy-washy bit, before fully evolving into Sympathy..., which is just beauty on a CD. Yum. Key instrument - the quiet, ascending bass riff throughout One More Robot; the strings on Sympathy 3000-21. Track Three - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1. This has just (as on January 2003) become the second single, and a great one it is too, if far too long for commercial radio (and, of course, far too good). Yoshimi, black belt in karate in hand, must protect our lead singer (and presumably all of us) from some evil machines. Yes, there's a common link with the previous track, but here the robots aren't feeling love for us. Can Yoshimi save the day? With certain retro/Japanese-ish images on the CD you would not be surprised to find a slight Eastern angle on the CD. And here, bouncing through the layers of softly-strummed acoustic guitars, are some odd-ball Japanese vocals, and other hints of an Asian battle-ground. Will Gates it isn't. Key instrument - again, how are you supposed to spell the "Wa-wa-wow" bit the keyboards make? Great noise, anyway. Track Four - Yoshimi... pt. 2, is the only track on here your granny wouldn't happily sway about the sofa to (despite us all having (or being) incredibly hip grannies). Theediscerning was aware of this before the instance a week or three back when HMV was playing the CD and skipped this number. This might, or might not, be the sounds of Yoshimi smashing the bejaysis out of the robots from part one. Thunderous descending percussion crashes, lots of screaming and commentary from street youths (all in Japanese), and lots of tres-modern acidic squiggles. All over the place, and perhaps a bit unnecessary, but OK, if not exactly a sing-a-long. Key instrument - the keyboards edge the percussion, even the tubular bells-sounding bits. Track Five - In the Morning of the Magicia ns. As the applause from the defeat of the robots sounds out, we come to track five, a lollopping little ditty. It being The Flaming Lips we again have lush, creative instrumentation breaking through the groove, before the lyrics start. "What is love, and what is hate? And why does it matter?" Well, the answer's obvious, but the puzzle hits our vocalist right where he's walking, and he inches through the beautiful surrounds of the music for a verse or two, before a pitter-patter percussion picks things up into a lounge-bar classic section. Key instrument - out of so many to choose, the Theremin deservedly comes out trumps. Track Six - Ego Tripping At the Gates of Hell. Still in mid-tempo mode, a languid and again beautiful song, with more than the odd bit of 60s acoustics and harmonies. Key instrument - the flute is just sublime. Track Seven - Are You a Hypnotist?? Trippy, tricksy percussion even upsets Wayne Coyne singing here, as does the relationship he is trying to sing about - "I had been tricked into forgiving you" or some such sentiment. Great singalong track, and a completely great orchestral backing breaching the shores of the choruses. Key instrument - the Melotron - remember them? Track Eight - It's Summertime. Does pop music get more sublime? Quiet pulses wake the birds up, and it's a glorious day, and our singer and acoustic guitarist just have to honour that fact. If there was any more optimism in this track we would need to carry it around in a special bag labelled "Happiness herein". Key instrument - the choral vocals. Please excuse theediscerning for shivering at the thought of them. Track Nine - Do You Realize? This was the first single, way back in mid-2002, and immediately catchy and brilliant it was. Theediscerning is lucky to have played the whole album so many times, this doesn't sound like a single any more, just one piece in th e grand puzzle. If this passed you by, then shame on you, for theediscerning is hereby going on strike and refusing to say anything more about it, apart from the fact a decent and very honest and respectful dance mix is on one of the Yoshimi single Cds. Track Ten - All We Have is Now, wherein a traveller comes from the future to tell us we are not contained therein, so we better jolly well start living now. And so you should - starting with a copy of this CD. If you haven't got the gist of it so far, theediscerning likes this stuff. Key instrument - all of them, again. Track Eleven - Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia). Well you were warned about the titles. At first it seems odd and a bit cheap to end a great album with an instrumental, but this is no throw-away track. The Flaming Lips have experience of instrumentals, with many a B-side being vocal-less. This one successfully creates a staring-into-space mood for the end of the CD - until you wake yourself up and press 'Play' again. It also reprises the kitschy sci-fi feel from the beginning with its retro noises again, thus compelling yet another listen to the CD. And there we have it. At under 48 minutes it's not a hugely long CD, but in fact is the perfect length. Never does it outstay its welcome, and instead is full of cherishable noises, lyrics and moments. The instrumentation is just too full, rounded and complex to do justice to via the inadequacy of words, with a brilliant and friendly old-meets-new feel that cannot fail to appeal. The vocals are strong and legible, and really very poetic too; none of this modern piffle. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots has been selling quite well, thank you, since its release last summer, but with the continued press acclaim, and the publicity from the second single, it has finally breached the UK Top Twenty album charts. Long may it stay there, for it comes highly recommended to all hi s readers by theediscerning. Go buy! The Test is Over... ... ... Now!
It's roughly 20yrs since The Flaming Lips formed, but it's only been in that last quarter that Oklahoma's The Flaming Lips have started getting the recognition they deserve, if also a bit extra. Like most modern fans, I first heard of the band via '99's 'The Soft Bulletin'; an album which made many music journalists wet their pants. I'd only read about them, read associations, and heard one or 2 songs, which I liked; but I never did get that album. Hearing 2/3 songs of their current album though made me buy it; and no doubt their existing fans will love it, and music journalists have excreted themselves this time. Though, I must say, though I do very much love this album, personally, I think some people have got too obsessively excited about them. But still better the Lips than others. The Flaming Lips are a trio (though there were a few significant member changes over the years) signed to Warner Bros., graduating from indie label Restless with their first release way back in 1987. This line-up has existed since '99. The Lips have been noted as being one of the world's most inventive bands, but no doubt '97 showed that being so much so can be damaging when they released an album with four CD's designed to be played similtaneously; and how many listeners would do that? Still, since 1993 they were on an upward hill, and walking above the peak. The way the band work is similar to that of future-band-form Depeche Mode; in that drummer Steven Drozd has written and performed almost all of the music on the album, while singer (and live guitarist) Wayne Coyne sings and pens the lyrics. Bassist Michael Ivins also works as engineer on this album, and producer Dave Fridmann (of Mercury Rev, Mogwai and Gemma Hayes fame) also lends a help on some of the songwriting. Talk about diplomacy! This must also explain why this album also doesn't sound like it's been made under dictatorship. It so unds marvellously fun (and making death themes sound fun is not very fashionable in a climate where Nirvana's post-'Utero', consumes modern youth mental torture, still). Also as a note of reference, Mercury Rev's frontman briefly played guitar for the band; and Yoshimi P-we (who undoubtedly forms part of the album's title), a comrade drummer in an all-girl Japanese rock band, makes a few 'screaming' appearances here. 'Yoshimi...' isn't a particulary long album, but not short either; infact it's one of the few albums I own that seems to last as long as you want it to. The artwork accompanying the CD is reminiscent of labels (faded sticker-like) that get added to Japanese import versions of albums, with cartoony pictures and lyrics. There's a nice orange theme which matches the music, which is also bright throughout. This is an album you'll play in entirety everytime it rests in your CD tray. Opening the 11-track album is 'Fight Test' which begins with audience cheers making way for cartoony electronic bass, inflatable-rubbery drums and acoustic guitars along to which Wayne Coyne narrates to us that there are times when fighting is neccessary. This opening song also serves as chapter 1 of the first 4 connected songs. 'Yoshimi...' is not a concept album, atleast after track 4; but there is a vein that runs throughout. This positive and uplifting track gives you an instant taste of what to expect later on. In the next song, one poor unfortunate robot's "circuitry duplicates emotion", and learns to love. Most likely with our Lara-like Yoshimi. Balloon-like electronic bass and almost nu-R&B beats and synthesizer textures carry the track along. The album-title track 'pt. 1' paints a picture of our "black belt in karate" heroine, and sees her getting ready to "defeat those evil robots". You can imagine the sun glowing as the s ong's stuttered acoustic guitar and windy synths open. Simple electronic beats, "wap-wap-wao" sounding bass textures and jangly emulations of xylophones and what-not tie the song up with a nice orange ribbon. This song is simply a great melodic pop song. Much of the songs here are acoustic pop songs, but evidently with a twist that makes Travis' greys seem greyer than pavement (not the band). 'pt. 2' featuring Yoshimi P-we's ending screams is a short arty track featuring some stunning bursts of loud drums and squelchy bass, no doubt symbolic of robots getting smashed up. It's noisy, but with structure, and it's fun. The robots are destroyed. 'In The Morning Of The Magicians' begins to take us away from the story into the free-form unknown. Mr Coyne ponders the interesting question "what is love and what is hate?" along to gentle strums, and more textures. And at this point we begin to realise that we're already halfway into this 50 minute album. This song serves as a kind of teleportation. 'Ego Tripping At The Gates Hell' narrates the fruitless pursuit of waiting for something you'll never get while many more alternative options pass you by. In this case a never-boring theme; love. Musically, this song sounds like RHCP making love to New Order; funktronica. And also in a desirable way it's a little bit Jackson Five-esque. Especially with Coyne's (unannoying) high pitch singing. Possibly my most favourite song on here, at the time I'm writing anyway, is 'Are You A Hypnotist??' with such marvellously simple lyrics like "I had forgiven you for tricking me again, but I have been tricked again into forgiving you". Beefy and occasional revved-back percussion and shimmery textures add to the grandieur and truly magical feel of this song. I'd advise the band to put this out as a single. The juicily titled 'It's Summer time (Throbbing Orange Pallbearers)' features pulsating bass, bird tweets and more electro-beat and strummy-goodness. This was one of the first songs the band wrote for this album, initially as a consolotary song for the relatives of a departed friend in Osaka. It ended up being more than a b-side as the band intended. First single 'Do You Realize??' (which along with 'pt.1' and 'Fight Test' sold the album to me) is a lovely song, and definetly a good choice for a single. "Do you realise that happiness makes you cry? Do you realise that everyone you know someday will die?" On surface level those words could seem cliche, but their deep basicness makes them great. You could imagine Wurzel Gummidge liking this sort of stuff: Mouth harp twangs, redneck strums and melodramatic strings move soundwaves along gracefully. This is the kind of grandieur that Mercury Rev deliver; I wonder if their Jonathan Donohue left any residue behind for the band. Second last song, 'All We Have Is Now' tells us that we should 'live' life everyday. "You and me were never meant to be part of the future"; this is all nestled in beautiful synthesizer harmony and textured beats. 'Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia)' ends the album with another art attack. Choked and flanged drums provide the background for blues guitar and an assortment ot textures, bleeps and screams. And thus our ears leave this audio city, and you think: "I really liked that"; I had an optional "but"; an unexplainable one though, possibly because I expected something more due to press influence, but that aside it's still a very good album, one of the best I've bought this year, so forgive me if I give this 4 stars, I may upgrade it to 5 at a later date, in my head anyway. Atleast I'm being personally fair as some press are unconditionally loving them like their children. I'm also writing this on the same day I received this album; but after sufficient repeated listening. But then from a band who seem to get better as they age (Wayne Coyne is in his early 40's, and has some grey hair), and have lasted, and with vigour, you can't expect anything less. And they may outdo themselves again in the future. For now, bring on the robots, and fake-blood-on-head pouring, and rabbit costumes. Ooh, the Lips do seem tempting live aswell. If you only buy one album this year, and you want to buy an album now; this is one to consider, to anyone. I dare anyone to not enjoy this more than a bit.
The last time a Flaming Lips album was unleashed upon the world it ended up gracing one of the top three slots in nearly every critic's end of year poll, quite an achievement for a band whose back catalogue is still unknown to many, though the chances are now that Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots will soon find itself nestled up beside The Soft Bulletin in many a CD collection. Yoshimi... continues on in much the same way as the Soft Bulletin, if that is possible for such a pioneering band as The Flaming Lips. The opening track Fight Test has the same uplifting spirit as Race for the Prize, and there is the same feeling that the band are located somewhere different from their listeners; a place where a small Japanese girl is single-handedly fighting against machines. But in reality, the emotions within Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots are the same ones that everybody feels. In the Morning of the Magicians is possibly the highlight with it's questioning echo of "What is love and what is hate and why does it matter?". The same beautiful hope underpins Wayne Coyne's reaching vocals in All We Have is Now, when he manages to turn themes of transience and mortality, into an overwhelmingly uplifting moment. Only a band like The Flaming Lips could get away with calling a track It's Summertime (Throbbing Orange Pallbearers) and still make it into one of the most beautiful songs this side of December. The couplet of Yoshimi battles the Pink Robots parts one and two, perhaps demonstrate the very best about the band. On one hand Coyne delivers and almost anthemic chorus of "Yoshimo they don't believe me, but you won't let those robots defeat me", and in the second part, they once again unveil their penchant for instrumentals, with a throbbing collision of music and screaming. The end result of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is an undefined blend of both sides, which proves to be just as stunning as its predecessor, and one which will easily adopt the role of saviour in our troubled times.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Fight Test
2 One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21
3 Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
4 Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
5 In The Morning Of The Magicians
6 Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell
7 Are You A Hypnotist
8 It's Summertime (Throbbing Orange Pallbearers)
9 Do You Realize
10 All We Have Is Now
11 Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia)