Album Review: The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody
The description for Flaming Lips’ latest experimental album Oczy Mlody is a mouthful in and of itself: A record in the style of both rock group Pink Floyd’s found Syd Barrett and modern rapper A$AP Rocky, combining their psychedelic styles into one obviously Flaming Lips sounding arrangement, on top of a concept about a party drug sharing the album’s title and a fairy tale future that’s living with it. It’s a large collection of information to swallow, but in music form it’s one that lives up to all the hype frontman Wayne Coyne has thrown on it and paints a brilliant psychedelic picture that drones with style.
To put it simply, the music of Oczy Mlody sticks to its psychedelic guns as much as possible, while mixing it with other genres in a way that allows songs to range from experimental and singularly diverse to almost cinematic. At its core, the music isn’t exactly that different from the music of the Flaming Lips’ past, with 2013’s The Terror often coming to mind and even with elements of 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots appearing as well. As a base album, it should be easy for Flaming Lips fans to get into it, although not entirely accessible for newcomers.
Where Oczy Mlody sets itself apart as a strong, solid album in its own right is the arrangement of its tracks. At its outset, the songs are psychedelic and trippy, featuring no vocals on the opening title track but gaining vocals and becoming more discernible as they go on. Almost as if signalling a shift in the style of the album, There Should Be Unicorns ends on a spoken word segment addressing the album’s concept, shifting from outright psychedelia into bright accompaniment and rubbery beats on Sunrise (Eyes of the Young), fuzzy lo-fi rock on Nidgy Nie (Never No) and into strange, cinematic soundscapes on One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizard to Kill and Listening to the Frogs with Demon Eyes. The latter two in particular are especially important, bringing the cinematic quality to the album that truly gives its concept some life and breath. By its end, as we close on almost normal songs like the angelically atmospheric and erratically melodic like The Castle and the trap inspiration on closing track We A Family, you’re left feeling like you’ve experienced a trip in every sense of the word.
From cinematic soundscapes to psychedelic drones and some diverse styles of rock in between, there’s a lot to process in Oczy Mlody when you place the concept on top of it. Even taken as a normal album, without any extra thought put into it, it’s a collection of sprawling recordings and thematic gems that each have a unique place in the overarching sound of the album that makes it sound so good in progress; the concept gives you more to read into, however, adding another layer entirely to the album. Flaming Lips fans are sure to have a lot of love for Oczy Mlody; there’s a lot to love here, and it’s an inarguably solid starting point for music in 2017.