The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

Recorded over the course of four years, Oczy Mlody by the Flaming Lips is a great way to kick off 2017. It tells a tale of sadness and regrets that turns into a story of resilience, love, and hope by the end.

The title track is a keyboard and synth-driven instrumental that would be at home in the opening credits of a movie set in the not-too-distant future. “How??” has lead singer Wayne Coyne issuing a call to action. “Legalize it. Every drug right now. Are you with us or are you burnin’ out? Kill your rock n roll motherfuckin’ hip-hop sound.” The lyrics might be angry, but the birdsong and distant, warped vocals make one think the rally cries are actually riddles.

“There Should Be Unicorns,” with its heavy synth bass (and guest vocals by Reggie Watts), asks where the bright, enlightened future promised to us by various leaders is. The Flaming Lips demand we enact this future if possible. One suggestion? “…if the police show up, we’ll bribe them into helping us steal the light of love from the rainbow sluts that live next door.”

“Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)” has Coyne wishing he could go back in time to hear a message he ignored. It’s mostly his vocals and Steven Drozd’s slightly echoed piano until some sad, falling synths ooze into the song. “Nigdy Nie (Never No)” starts to turn the album away from painful memories. The lyrics are mostly the word “No” until the second half when they become “Yeah.” The poppy synths are also a bit happier than the last track, almost like the band has realized things are going to be okay.

“Galaxy I Sink” has Coyne questioning his mortality and wondering if we will return to the stardust of which we are made. The desert guitar in it (backed with the sound of frogs chirping, no less) is perfect for such a cosmic conundrum. “One Night While Hunting for Fairies and Witches and Wizards to Kill” is probably the closest you’ll get to being in one of Wayne Coyne’s dreams. He describes going into a tree, trying to kill a wizard, being mortally wounded, and then healed by magical beings. I don’t know what it all means, but it’s one of the best tracks on the record. It’s dark wave filtered through an opium vision. “Do Glowy” continues this trip with even trippier synths and lyrics about getting “glowy and drippy.”

The frogs return in “Listening to the Frogs with the Demon Eyes.” Strange industrial sounds mix with shaky synths and dream-pop guitars. The song is mostly about death, but it’s also about faith: “I can’t see the moon, but I know it’s there. I can’t see the end, but I know it’s there. I can’t see the sun, but I feel it’s there. I can’t see your love, but I know it’s there.”

It flows well into “The Castle,” a song about a woman who’s lost her mind after, I think, being heartbroken (or from suffering a massive head wound, I’m not sure which). “Almost Home (Blisko Domu)” is a reminder that actions have consequences, so wisely choose your path. Coyne sings (as some cool, almost hip-hop bass and grooves kick in), “The thought soon becomes the word, the word then becomes the deed. If the deed is evil, blame the thought it is the seed.”

“We A Family” (with guest vocals by Miley Cyrus) is a tale of Coyne missing his love as he drives “somewhere south of Wichita” and she’s somewhere else under the moon. They’re apart but still connected. Cyrus’ voice mixes well with Coyne’s. They’ve worked together in the past, so hearing them together again to finish the album is a nice touch.

This is already one of the best records of the year. The Flaming Lips can mix dark wave, psychedelia, and electro in ways few bands can. Oczy Mlody ends with laughter. It reminds us to remember joy and have faith. We need that advice in these times.

Keep your mind open.

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Nik Havert

I've been a music fan since my parents gave me a record player for Christmas when I was still in grade school. The first record I remember owning was "Sesame Street Disco." I've been a professional writer since 2004, but writing long before that. My first published work was in a middle school literary magazine and was a story about a zoo in which the animals could talk.

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