The Flaming Lips

Oczy Mlody

Warner Bros.

Jan 13, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary Bookmark and Share


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Over the past half-decade, The Flaming Lips have given their less obliging fans reasonable cause to hold their breaths and approach new releases with a twinge of trepidation. They'll hesitate before clicking the announcement; soon will follow questions such as "How many celebrity guest stars did you say it will feature...?," "Wait, am I supposed to eat that?," and "Oh, it's all covers again?"

While it's great to see the band having fun, the less devoted fan doesn't want to gnaw a USB drive out of a gummy fetus. The Lips have always been about experimentation and pushing boundaries, but they're also songcrafters capable of gorgeous, transcendental pop music and mind-blowing blasts of rock 'n' rollwhich is an element that's occasionally lost in all of the well-intentioned gimmickry. Oczy Mlody, then, is for the fans who prayed for a return to the frequently-breathtaking melodies of The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. While it's not nearly as chipper as either, it's a far cry sunnier than the dark, intermittently abrasive The Terror and Embryonic. Oczy is a notably mellow trip, its melancholic overtone punctured by flashes of whimsy. (One serious-sounding voiceover explains unicorns' nasty habit of shitting everywhere.) The record has a faint-yet-beguiling running theme which calls to mind the grimmest of Grimm's fairy tales, with song titles referencing witches, wizards, castles, and "Frogs with Demon Eyes."

The record seems to gradually lighten in its second half, creating a listening experience that feels like a calming release as the music rolls on. Like The Flaming Lips have done in the past, each track flows seamlessly into the next; what sifts out the superb from the merely solid of those albums is when the songs can stand separately from their designated lot, which Oczy achieves in distinguishable highlights such as "The Castle" and "We a Family" (which features vocals from a pleasantly unobtrusive Miley Cyrus). Rather than covering Dark Side of the Moon, like the Lips did in 2009, they've composed a set of original songs which embody many of its same qualities. This time, the music took clear precedence over the concept, and that's worthy of rejoicing. (www.flaminglips.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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