The Flaming Lips return after more than a two-year hiatus with ‘Oczy Mlody,’ yet another intriguing, if weird, addition to their distinct discography.
Experimental rock band The Flaming Lips don’t sell particularly well. Did they ever? The answer is a resounding no. To date, the RIAA has certified just one TFL album: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot. Regardless, the band is prolific, continuing to push boundaries musically. After a two-year hiatus – With a Little Help From my Fwends, released in late 2014 – TFL return with new album, Oczy Mlody.
“How??” opens enigmatically – shocker. A spacy joint, “How??” sounds very druggy, embracing psychedelia. Unique lyrically, though not deep, frontman Wayne Coyne kicks things off interestingly:
“White trash rednecks, earthworms eat the ground / Legalize it, every drug right now.”
A question mark of question marks, the mysteriousness of “Oczy Mlody” is what makes it a memorable highlight. The Flaming Lips are true to themselves.
“Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)”
“Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)” sounds groovy from the jump. The record blends a dash of urban music and the psychedelic rock the band thrives on. The piano sound stands out. Notably, it is drenched in effects, with reverb among them. Lyrically, “Sunrise” covers the sunrise, the sunbeams, and the sunset on respective verses. Each shows the progression of age, with youth dying with each successive verse. Disheartening perhaps, “Sunrise” is among the crème de la crème.
“One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill”
“One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill” earns the best song title of the album. Like the majority of songs on Oczy Mlody, groove is king. In addition to signature TFL cues, there’s a distinct dash of hip-hop – the band puts some stank on it. No, it isn’t trap by any means, but there’s a sense of experimentation worth noting. The lyrical content is also ambitious, as Coyne imparts the ultimate tall tale:
“One night while hunting for faeries / and witches and wizards to kill / I came across a hole in a tree in the forest / I climbed inside the tree hole with small fear and loaded my gun / I should have heeded that small fear / I walked towards the wizard’s cave shooting to / Shoot out his wizard brains…”
“Listening to the Frogs with Demon Eyes”
“Have you ever seen someone die / In the summertime, in the summertime?”
That is the question Coyne asks on “Listening to the Frogs with Demon Eyes.” “Demon Eyes” is the lengthiest song of Oczy Mlody, clocking in at seven and half minutes. Despite its ambitious length, it ranks among the most intriguing listens. Expectedly, given TFL’s penchant for being over-the-top, there are frogs ribbitting. It would’ve been disappointing without them, sigh. “Listening to the Frogs with Demon Eyes” masterfully avoids predictability – save for those frogs – by offering contrasting sections. The verses, chorus, and bridge are all separate entities in effect.
A sick groove anchors “The Castle” down. This hails directly from the modern play book: hip-hop and urban contemporary. Featuring excellent vocal production, the use of reverb and supporting vocals establishes the chill vibe. As always, vibe is everything. Approached narratively, each verse adds something different, while each chorus is varied. “The Castle” represents one of the better instances of songwriting on Oczy Mlody.
All in all, a book could be written about any The Flaming Lips album. The same can be said of Oczy Mlody, which is an incredibly unique effort. This isn’t TFL’s best album or most memorable, but it fits their colorful, experimental discography without a hitch. Even if Oczy Mlody is no masterpiece, it is sure to be among the more distinct efforts of 2017, even though it’s only mid-January.
Gems: “How??,” “Sunrise (Eyes of the Young),” “One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill,” “Listening to the Frogs with Demon Eyes.” and “The Castle”
The Flaming Lips • Oczy Mlody • Warner Bros. • Release: 1.13.17
Photo Credits: Warner Bros.