Warner Bros Records - 2002 - 47 minutes

Producing a follow-up to 1999s superb 'The Soft Bulletin' might have been forbidding task for many bands but not for The Flaming Lips who have been dauntless throughout their 20-year, 11-album career. And they would have been right not to worry, for 'Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots' is a sublime masterpiece from a trio - Wayne Coyle (guitar, vocals), Steve Drozd (drums) and Michael Ivins (bass) - that have consistently produced the weirdest and most imaginative pop this side of the universe.

A concept album of sorts - Coyne uses the words "sound story" - several of the tracks are loosely based around a Manga-type tale of a young Japanese girl fighting the mechanical pink robots of the title. Taking the transience and beauty of life as further themes, the 'Lips weave a delicate and otherworldly soundscape around Coyne's tender lyrics.

The madly catchy 'Flight Test' with its overlapping verse and chorus is Cat Steven's 'Father and Son' relocated to another world but the real killer punch to the heart is 'Do You Realise', a superbly upbeat paean to human mortality ("Do you realise that happiness makes you cry? Do you realise that everyone you know someday will die?").

Squelchy electonica upholstered with sampled sounds, screaming Japanese fighting girls and Coynes unearthly voice combine to make this the best album of philosophical psychedelia that you're going to hear this year. Unmissable.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Fight Test - One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21 - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Part 1) - Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Part 2) - In The Morning Of The Magicians - Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell - Are You A Hypnotist - It's Summertime (Throbbing Orange Pallbearers) - Do You Realize - All We Have Is Now - Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia)