The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody
With their 14th studio album, and first since 2013’s The Terror, and off the back of 2014’s demented collaborative track by track recreation of Sgt Pepper’s with With a Little Help From My Fwends and their work with Miley Cyrus, Wayne Coyne and his colourful motley crew return with Oczy Mlody. Throughout their 30 odd year career they have drawn from a wide range of different inspirations and influences to create their baroque space operatics, and Oczy Mlody is no different.
Taking inspiration from a Polish translation of Erskine Caldwell’s book Blisko Domu, Coyne and co. have, rather than drawing on the thematic elements, extracted inspiration and meaning from the sounds of the words to craft their own narrative. A futuristic drug induced dream state, part a version of Blade Runner filmed on a clear sunny day and part High Rise, that is driven by beats and rhythm. So dreamlike that, unfortunately, you do find your mind wandering part way through the album. However, there are definite highlights that do manage to snap you back into the room, such the heavier beat and synth drone of 'There Should Be Unicorns', the more classic Flaming Lips sound of 'Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)' and 'The Castle'. The album highlight, for me, is closer 'We A Family' which features Miley Cyrus in a joyous singalong of synth, swirling guitars and strings, but even this feels out of kilter with the rest of the album and feels a bit tacked on.
While Oczy Mlody does manage to draw away from the bleaker aspects of The Terror, some were hoping for a more direct return to the more commercial sound of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. For better or worse, it does manage to create a sprawling sparkling soundscape narrative while retaining the heavier drone aspects of their recent work, but lacks the consistent standout tracks and themes found in albums like Yoshimi... or The Soft Bulletin.