Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips performs live on stage at The Falls Music and Arts Festival on December 30, 2012 in Lorne, Australia. (Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
“The Terror”

Kindred spirits: Of Montreal, Pink Floyd, King Crimson

Show: With Tame Impala on Friday at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Gates open
at 5:30 p.m. 410-715-5550. www.merriweathermusic.com. $35-45.

Over the years, the Flaming Lips’ songs often have described interplanetary battles between the forces of liberating love and those of debilitating control. But never has the future looked as bleak as it does on the band’s new album, “The Terror.”

Lead singer Wayne Coyne’s lyrics (e.g. “When you really listen, fear is all you hear”) are daunting enough, but multi-
instrumentalist Steven Drozd’s backing tracks are even more discouraging. His soundscapes of seething synths, indifferent mechanical loops and ghostly drones hold out little hope for human resistance to the brain waves emanating from “a little spaceship hiding in the clouds.”

As pessimistic as both the vocals and instrumentation are, the icy beauty of these songs deserves admiration. Like several tracks, “Try to Explain” pits a slow hymn, as patiently harmonized as a monastic chant, against a backdrop of swirling organ chords, oscillating guitar tones and flaring electronica. Unlike most rock-and-roll sci-fi, these songs never sound cluttered or jumbled; every piece fits in place to form a gorgeous sonic design, even as it describes a doomed race. If humans are such a failure as a species, how could they make music as mesmerizing as this?

Geoffrey Himes