The Flaming Lips are one of the most interesting bands of the past 20 years or so. With songs about using Vaseline instead of jelly, fighting pink robots, a war with the mystics, and a new record I falsely remembered as “Oggly Moggly” before giving it a listen, it’s safe to say the band is a bit “out there.” Their last record, 2013’s The Terror, followed a similar path to most of their music, acting as an escape into another reality—due to lead vocalist Wayne Coyne splitting with his wife, and band member Steven Drozd’s relapsing back into drug use.
Wayne Coyne explained the concept behind The Terror as a world that “goes on” without love, but his time around, the band is a little less bleak (maybe Miley Cyrus has somehow been a good influence on them). Instead of the doom and gloom of The Terror‘s loveless dystopia, Oczy Mlody, the Flaming Lips’ fourteenth record, sounds more utopian, like an ancient Greek’s drug-induced dreamscape.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that Oczy Mlody is like if a whole episode of Bojack Horseman was just drug trip scenes of sexy unicorns and existential crises. According to Apple Music, the record is described by Wayne Coyne himself as “Syd Barrett [of Pink Floyd] meets A$AP Rocky and they get trapped in a fairytale from the future,” so try that one on for size.
The record begins fairly similar to what sounds like an indie film soundtrack, and The Flaming Lips have always succeeded in creating a cohesive sound and space for their records. The only track that slightly stands out is “Sunrise (Eyes of the Young),” since it sounds so similar to the songs on Yoshimi, but at the same time it’s also one of my favorite tracks on the record (probably due to its resemblance to Yoshimi). Fun fact: “Oczy Mlody” is Polish, translated as “Eyes of the Young” in English.
Not all of the tracks on Oczy Mlody are as great as the possible soundscape created for this record, such as “One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill” or “Do Glowy,” but songs like “How??” I think really capture the band’s potential when they don’t get too over-the-top psychadelic or trapped in their own fictional realities. I even think the music shares some similarities to Bon Iver’s 22, A Million, but if the songs were processed through the moody synth-driven inner workings of Wayne Coyne’s drug-infused mind.
I mean, is a song like “Listening to the Frogs with Demon Eyes” really supposed to make a lot of sense to me? At the same time, this is all coming from a band whose favorite song is probably “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and at one time covered all of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, so I don’t expect to have perfect clarity about if there’s any hidden meaning behind “There Should Be Unicorns,” but the record does give off (if I can possibly read it correctly) what seems to be a pretty good idea of where the band’s mindsets land following The Terror and the recent election cycle (a.k.a. “The Terror”). For Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd, Oczy Mlody is a reach for utopia during a time of dread—and it’s no wonder that 1984 is back as the #1 best seller on Amazon.