1. At this point in time, their worst album since … one of their early ones that no one cares about.
2. The obviously Illinois-influenced titles are one of the few redeeming qualities of At War With Mystics; the over-the-topness of the title, “The Wizard Turns On… the Giant Silver Flashlight and Puts On His Werewolf Moccasins” (an instrumental that reminds me of Golden Era-Genesis and is better than “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia),” the instrumental equivalent on the preceding Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots), always puts a smile on my face in a way that the music on this album rarely does (and if it does, than it’s often a forced smile).
3. ”Goin’ On” sounds exactly like “It’s Summertime.” It’s one of the more melodically pleasant songs on the album as a result.
4. I never cared for Wayne Coyne accepting Brian Wilson as his Lord and Savior because a lot of his singing feels less emotional and more of a pose as a result. That being said, hearing him pretend to be Prince on “Free Radicals” is actively nauseating.
5. There are two main draws here, both released as the album’s singles.
“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)” takes some of the most annoying backing vocals you’ll ever hear and the band’s flair for adding ALL THE EFFECTS and ALL THE VOLUME on this album … makes them work … somehow. Love the way Wayne Coyne’s voice is able to make that tiny leap to make the choruses more invigorating (“With all your power…With all your power…”), love the vocoders, love Steven Drozd’s scream/yawn in the intro.
“The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)” is the other, even though I think 50 Cent isn’t someone to draw inspiration from and even if the song plays its hand halfway through (after Wayne Coyne says “We got the power, now, motherfucker”). Good riff, good use of processed vocals and overdubbing that makes it seem like Wayne Coyne is yelling at the crowd with a megaphone, trying to rally them up against … the White House or whatever. The Lips’ political bend on this single (and the album) was really vague.
6. ”Mr. Ambulance Driver” often gets cited as a highlight … and … yeah, I guess? I mean, the hook, “Mr. Ambulance Driver, I’m right here beside her,” is an all-too-brief touching moment on an album that can’t see humanity past all the marijuana smoke.
7. I’m not against drug use, but if you want your children to steer clear of drugs, you might want to play them The Soft Bulletin, then Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and then this to show what years of non-stop drug (ab)use does to your synapses. Did Coyne honestly try to sell us a Godawful lyric like “Every time you state your case / The more I want to punch your face?”