The Flaming Lips return with an album that is characteristically heavy on the atmosphere, unicorns and Miley Cyrus vocals, but light on memorable tunes
If The Flaming Lips are experts in anything, it would be experimental, psychedelic music. So, when frontman Wayne Coyne described their new album, Oczy Mlody, as “Syd Barrett meets A$AP Rocky … trapped in a fairy tale from the future”, you can tell this is an accurate assessment. Oczy Mlody combines together 60s style psychedelic guitars, along with distorted drum machines, with limited success.
The highlight of the album is its four singles. ‘How??’ feels like the Blade Runner soundtrack smashed together with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. ‘The Castle’ is an unashamedly just the Rolling Stone’s ‘She’s A Rainbow’ with heavy electronic drums, but it works well. The best track of the four is ‘We A Family’. With Miley Cyrus’ distorted vocals, colourful melodies and spidery guitar riffs, this track’s a total romp. The reason these singles work so well is that this is where the Flaming Lips’ ambitions are on full display. Syd and A$AP do meet and they are indeed throwing a giant party.
On the other hand, much of rest of the album is made up of experimental instrumentals. Those that work well feel cinematic: the titular opening track ‘Oczy Mlody’ is a short, ambient track, reminiscent of the cold, creepy electronic score from John Carpenter films. ‘Galaxy I Sink’ combines tremolo-heavy, reverbating guitar work with overwhelming horns and strings, making something that’s straight out of Sergio Leone western.
However, whilst the instrumental type tracks are experimental and ambiguous, most of them don’t work. ‘One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill’ is six minutes long and is decidedly one-note. ‘Listening to the Frogs With Demon Eyes’ is seven and a half minutes long, and all you end up wondering is “Where is this going?”, only to realise it’s not going anywhere and you never want to listen to it again. Just dull.
Partly why these tracks are so frustrating is because there is a genuinely good, 40 minute album in here somewhere. The four singles are great and the instrumentals that stick the landing really add something to Oczy Mlody. Yet, these tracks add nothing to the album and only end up disrupting the flow that this album may have had. Overall, it is a good album, but barely.