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Oczy Mlody. It’s a Polish phrase that The Flaming Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne uses to describe a fantasy drug that transports the user to youthful wonder. Translating loosely in English to “Young Eyes” it also happens to be the title of their new record. Their 15th solo album and the first since 2013’s The Terror, it’s 12 tracks of quintessential The Flaming Lips pleasure.
Of course, the title is incredibly apt as each song transports the listener into a technicoloured alternate dimension of curiosity and fantasy. Well, for as long as you have your headphones in at least. As you would expect, the album is heavy on production, varying in thematic tones and explores real human emotions in fantastical settings.
Opening with the title track, the two-minute instrumental intro buzzes with otherworldly hums and warbling synth. It’s the kind of music you would expect to hear in the elevator of a spaceship. Flowing into “How??”, the second song rises with the chirps of birds before proggy organs and piercing snare drums slink in. “Legalise it, every drug right now,” growls Coyne through distorted vocals and over chugging feedback that buzzes like an angry hornet’s nest.
The lyrical content of ‘There Should Be Unicorns’ follows a similar psychedelic, drug-addled vein. To be fair, the entire album is basically a projectile spew of Coyne’s conscious and, perhaps, unconscious mind. But it works. “At first these should be unicorns. The ones with the purple eyes. Not the green eyes,” he slurs in his glass-shattering falsetto. As the titles suggest, tracks such as ‘One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill’ and ‘Listening to the Frogs with Demon Eyes’ have a similar intoxicating effect.
While still whimsical, the album is sonically tighter than their most recent couple of records. The lyrics are no less “what the fuck?” inducing, but the record depends more on smooth melodies and sounds than purposeful but ineffective inconsistencies. Similar to The Soft Bulletin (1999) and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002), more traditional song structures and smoother melodies make the album accessible while retaining its unique quirks. This is especially true with the clear verse and chorus structure on tracks like ‘Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)’ and ‘Nigdy Nie’. Meanwhile, ‘Galaxies I Sink’ is an instance where traditional emotions meet extraterrestrial settings. Blooming with tinkling synth and more whirring feedback, it’s a trippy but heartfelt love song. “I saw the universe in your giant eyes,” sings Coyne.
After collaborating on Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz in 2015, Flaming Lips and Cyrus have reunited once again for the album’s bookend: ‘We A Famly’. It’s in this song that the drowsy mood is yanked away for an uplifting lament of togetherness, friendship and hope. While the track experiments with overt AutoTune, Miley’s southern drawl is still unmistakeable as it crawls into the second verse. “Oh, and I just can’t imagine life without you could ever happen. It’s you and me,” croon Coyne and Cyrus in unison.
Between the stunning arrangements, psychedelic synths and imaginative songwriting, Oczy Mlody is everything you could hope for from a band you don’t know what to expect from.
‘Oczy Mlody’ is out today.
Watch: The Flaming Lips – The Castle