10. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002)
Though partially informed by the death of a young fan from Japan (not the titular person -- that would be guest vocalist Yoshimi P-We from the sainted Boredoms), Yoshimi splits its time between moody noodling and a clutch of chipper singles. In the three years between albums, Coyne and company worked on a couple other projects: the cornpone swamp-country soundtrack to Okie Noodling (the 2001 manual-catfishing documentary released by future Lips chronicler Brad Beesley) and Christmas On Mars, the band's pet film project that finally got released in 2008. Both approaches -- the acoustic cheeriness of the former and the dirge-y madness of the latter -- found their way into Yoshimi's overall sound.
Although previous album The Soft Bulletin was a hit by the band's standards, Yoshimi's lead single "Do You Realize??" was a bonafide smash: another top 40 UK hit, used in the soundtracks of cinematic classics like 50 First Dates and How to Deal, and voted as the Official Rock Song Of Oklahoma in 2009. Its goggle-eyed, precious stonerisms haven't aged well, but with this kind of material, the Lips were connecting with new fans at an impressive rate. The title track is on some aw-shucks shit, complete with gimmicks like gated acoustic guitar, robot responses, and martial-artist grunts. As a campfire singalong, it's good; as a song, it's a lazily-rhymed, well-engineered slice of soft rock. For the first time in the band's career, the uplift doesn't connect like the comedowns. Trancy, baleful songs like "All We Have Is Now," "One More Robot," and "In The Morning Of The Magicians" are prime head music, with computational bass work from Ivins and an admirable refusal to resolve. And on all of them, Coyne drops his voice to a childlike mewl; his ability to wrangle his ragged pipes in service of daunting vertical melodies is downright inspirational.