Released 13th January 2017 // Warner Bros Records
The Flaming Lips 15th studio album is a new exploration of the classic experimental, quasi-sci-fi, hallucinogenic Lips sound. It brings back the familiar warm, fuzzy, weed-brownie-spaced-out sensation, driven by frontman Wayne Coyne and his haunting examination of what isn’t real and why. It seems reminiscent of earlier concept album “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”, but in a deliberately non-radio friendly way.
Oczy Mlody literally translates from Polish to “Eyes of the Young”. Lyrically, the album reads like a stream of consciousness, as if Coyne had simply stood in front of the microphone in the studio and conjured words from space, whilst his hips swayed and his arms flailed and the music moved through him. The instrumental opening synthesises an ethereal, echoing Boards of Canada vibe, which nicely flows into How?? – a post-dystopian apology “I tried to tell you but I don’t know how!!” that slowly builds into a retrospective acknowledgement of responsibility. “Back when we were young, we killed everyone // If they fucked with us, with our baby guns // We were young with our baby guns”.
There’s a downtrodden theme of losing hope running subliminally throughout all 57 minutes of this psychedelic experience. In There Should Be Unicorns Coyne lists off what feels like the outrageous expectations of an acidhead planning a birthday party. Unicorns available with a choice of eye colour, motorcycle stunts that result in inevitable crashes and swans that (hopefully) won’t die. This exploration of the absurd continues in Galaxy We Sink, which builds from a military drum pattern into a reverb-driven investigation of the human psyche and desire to know more, “in my tired eyes // I can see all dimensions of my life”
Almost Home (Blisko Domu) is the penultimate track and the last of four songs on this album featuring a Polish title. The Polish titles are derived from a paperback book Coyne once bought from a used bookstore and found meditative peace within. Unfamiliar with the language, certain phrases that stuck with Coyne took on whatever abstract meaning he substituted. Which were then crafted into the narrative and determined the course of Oczy Mlody. In Almost Hone (Blisko Domu) Coyne extends on a fake Buddha parable that passed around the internet, drafting metaphysical political commentary, which feels ever relevant in this right-shifting world, “the action needs its energy // It takes it from your hate and greed”.
All in all, Oczy Mlody isn’t the Lips greatest work. It’s disjointed, sparse and impressionist. But it’s a damn good album to listen to whilst you’re sat in a dark room in the midst of an existential crisis brought about by the shocking events of 2017.
Hey-ho. Only 11 months left to go.
By Char Hudson