Flaming Lips, ‘Oczy Mlody’: Album Review
According to Wayne Coyne, Oczy Mlody is a Polish phrase that means “eyes of the young.” It’s the right title for an album in which the Flaming Lips scale some heavy subjects (mortality, relationships, suicide) via a childlike fantasy world rife with unicorns and wizards and lots and lots of frogs.
The Lips have often seen the world through Technicolor glasses, but they don’t build these bridges to Terabithia as an escape, rather as an attempt at trying to wrap their brains around humanity’s issues – as if seeing Earth as an alien world or another dimension might help it make more sense. So, on Oczy Mlody the neo-psychedelicists fade into visions of broken castles to explore grief (“The Castle”), employ fairies and witches to ponder a broken heart (“One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill”) and invent a unicorn party to solve police brutality (“There Should Be Unicorns”).
Watch the Video for "The Castle"
Sure, all of the fanciful imagery and stoner philosophy flirts with self-parody – then again, how far does a band that once released the song “Talkin’ ’Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues (Everyone Wants to Live Forever)” as a single have to travel to truly parody their oeuvre? Regardless, there are obvious echoes of the past, from sing-songy bad days to scintillating soft bulletins, pairing the symphonic sweep of the Lips’ glory days with the skittering electronics of the band’s more recent albums.
Michael Ivins’s rubber-band bass and Steven Drozd’s motion-blur synthesizers help make for a more dynamic listen than the disaffected ambient tones of 2013’s The Terror. There’s always something interesting going on in the background of this record, between the blurts that recall LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip to the soundscapes that hearken back to (Lips hero) Syd Barrett and even the Delfonics.
That said, the Lips could stand to spend some time on the foreground. In years past, Coyne and Co. could pluck tune after loony tune from their gorgeous imaginations. But now, there’s hardly a merry melody to be found on Mlody. Songs waft past like dreams and at the end of the album, just like in the morning, it’s hard to recall the exact shape of most of them.
Still, the mind-altering journey that is Oczy Mlody leaves listeners with the aftertaste of hope, closing with the Beatles-referencing, majestic groove of a Coyne/Miley Cyrus duet, “We a Famly.” After Wayne spent the Lips’ last album ensconced in The Terror that love wouldn’t cure his problems, he appears to have come around. Maybe that’s what happens when you look at the world through the eyes of the young.
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