This is a sure bet if you liked the Lips' classic (that's right, I think it already is) 'Yoshimi' album. The new songs pretty much have the same tone- reflective surrealistic progressive pop. No, not the kind that the Shins do so well, for the Lips have this Yes-like quality to their visionary, lush psychedelia. "Sunship Ballooons" even has Coyne going for a Jon Anderson-ish earnestness. This is a real fine, sunny wash of gently exploding colors. Coyne's little introductory speech, with Drozd's beautiful Brian Wilson-meets-Yes vocal harmonies, is delightfully reassuring, without sounding corny. "I don't know the dimensions of outer space, but if our ability to feel love turns out to be just a cosmic accident, I'd like to think this means the universe is on our side." This could well be mock-seriousness, but one gets the impression that its at the heart of Coyne's persona. Michael Ivins' bass work is deep and fluid, adding much to this piece's warm charm. "Assassination Of The Sun" is definitely a mini-masterpiece. It too sounds like an understated 'Yoshimi' production-wise, with a modest, epic quality suffusing every note. This is a beautifully sad lament that seems to reflect on the metaphorical "pink robots" (seemingly self-serving, insensitive people, perhaps made increasingly unfeeling like the technology of the machines that influence them) and their creations that Yoshimi (the uncorrupted human spirit) was up against. "They have begun to celebrate the tidal wave they think is great / the ever-beating heart that it wasn't...and now this horrible machine churns out pain instead of love and looks just like the sun..." My interpretation of all this is that the churning "machine" is indeed the world that's come about due to the corrupted "pink robots". It may look like the real thing, appear to be good (the technology-polished artifices of the power-minded narcissistic), but this sun's light is of course, cold. They are the negators of human kindness, man's good will, love and mercy. "They have begun to assassinate the sun". Steven Drozd's drumming is nothing less than virtuosic here, recalling with dead accuracy the jazzy, rhythmic dialect of original King Crimson drummer, Michael Giles. Drozd's lyrical guitar and vocal harmonies are clearly those of a musician who deeply feels his craft. The lulling, drifting atmosphere of "I'm A Fly On A Sunbeam" is another fine Lips instrumental contribution, coming off like a daydreaming version of Soft Bulletin's "Sleeping On The Roof". The cd ends poignantly enough with "A Change At Christmas", a gem of a song unpretentiously musing over why people don't generally accord each other the deference year-round that they do during the time of Christmas. Isn't there more of that good will to go around? What's sometimes missed by some when hearing this is that the reason why Wayne sings (really talk-singing) lower and less polished is, the way I see it, at least, that he's adressing the listener straight from the heart, no pretenses, no metaphors, no fooling around. Its like he's saying, "This seriously means something to me folks, so I'm gonna level with ya." Coyne's voice wavers off key, the result of a singer sacrificing technique for unvarnished, emotive effect. The tone of the lyrics, set against a delicate Christmas-y backdrop, are underscored by Drozd's solemn piano. "...oh, if I could stop time", Coyne wearily sounding as if these thoughts are almost too burdensome to bear, "it would be frozen moment just around Christmas / when all of mankind reveals its truest potential / and there is sympathy for the suffering, yes there is sympathy for those who are suffering." The inevitable disillusion is dealt with as these solemnly voiced words are uttered, "and its glimpsed for one shining moment / and this change feels like a change that's real / but then it passes along with the season / and then we just go back to the way we were..." As if that truth isn't sad enough, perhaps the real crusher comes with this statement, "...its easier / that's just the way we are...that's human nature and that's just the way we are." That's some tough stuff to face, and it all ends with Coyne's pleading howls of, "Say it isn't so!", over and over. Whew. Never does the emotion ever sound self-servingly insincere. There is no grandstanding of any sort by the Lips in the conveyance of the song. This is some achievement, and the minimalistic melody is just right. Admitedly, the remixes of "Ego Tripping" take away from the directness of the original version, but they are in no way bad. The second remix does a nice job of displaying Drozd's affecting backing vocals. "Do You Realize" is here in a remix by The Postal Service, so its interesting for that reason alone, but its still just a remix, if you know what I mean. Again, the directness of the original version is compromised for the sake of novel recontextualization. This is a stronger EP than the still interesting, though more slight 'Fight Test'. The three, non 'Yoshimi' vocal originals on the 'Ego Tripping' EP are what gives this the edge over 'Fight Test', although there's most certainly some stuff worth savoring there too. The 'Ego Tripping' EP has some truly inspired, moving work that goes perfectly with the 'Yoshimi' album, and yet also shows the Lips doing admirable new things with there music.