For a man who’s yet to even read the Orson Scott Card novel, Wayne Coyne sure has a lot to say about Ender’s Game. The Flaming Lips turned their sole song contribution for the movie’s soundtrack into an entire EP, waxing poetic on par in scope with the fate of civilization. Sweeping orchestrations mirror composer Steve Jablonsky’s arrangements as the eponymous “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)” slowly comes alive. Sustained notes give way to throwback Flaming Lips synth and militant drums before space-age harmonies take over. Peace Sword may be its own entity, but it’s hard not to find continuations from comedown LP, The Terror, seeping into its production, especially its redemptive bent.
It’s to the point that every other article mentioning Peace Sword states Coyne and Co.’s lack of knowledge of Ender’s Game and yet, very little is said on the musical merit of the songs attached to the young adult classic. The EP surprisingly plays the long game; its shortest song a respectable three minutes or so, yet its closing track just over ten minutes of buildup. “Assassin Beetle” roams freely, playing with textures in soundscape like a painter with a palette knife. The universe may feel infinite, yet The Flaming Lips are looking to rival its vastness. The end result is surprisingly fragile.
“Wolf Children” stands as perhaps the most consistently driving track, mired in its percussion and painting a pretty clear picture of the Battle School in which we find our protagonist. Not enough can be said for the imagery attached to the track. It makes you wonder which scene sold the Flaming Lips on signing onto Ender’s Game and what spoke most strongly to the band when composing such a track. “Wolf Children” aside, the outer layers of the album are cosmic, nay, simply universal. Ender’s Game purists may not be completely sold, but for a Flaming Lips fan, it shows a progressive melding of styles and finally, a leveling off from the absolute melancholia of The Terror. All it took was some outside inspiration.