Happy 10th: The Flaming Lips, At War with the Mystics
10 years ago today, The Flaming Lips released their 11th studio album, a guitar-driven affair which earned them not only their highest chart placement to date but also a pair of Grammy Awards.
The process of recording At War with the Mystics started somewhat earlier than it might otherwise have happened, but when the 2004 Lollapalooza tour – which was to have featured the Lips playing with, among others, Morrissey and Sonic Youth – was cancelled due to low ticket sales, the band opted to head into Tarbox Road Studio with producer Dave Fridmann and start work on their full-length follow-up to 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
Between the recording sessions and the album’s release, the Lips gained additional exposure through Fearless Freaks, a documentary about the band, and released VOID (Video Overview in Deceleration), a collection of their videos since signing to Warner Brothers in 1991. They also teased the new album with “Mr. Ambulance Driver,” which made its debut on the soundtrack to Wedding Crashers in 2005.
When At War with the Mystics was released, it hit #11 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, handily topping their previous high set by Yoshimi, which topped out at #50. In the UK, though, it did even better, hitting #6 and going gold, with two of the singles from the album making significant chart headway: “The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)” hit #41, and “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)” hit #16. Strangely, neither song cracked the US Alternative chart, although “The W.A.N.D.” did at least bubble under the Hot 100.
Still, as noted, At War with the Mystics did find a certain degree of acclaim in America: the title track won the Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance, and the album itself walked away with Best Engineered Album Non-Classical. Not too shabby.