Critics On The Flaming Lips’ ‘Oczy Mlody’ – Track By Track Compilation of Reviews

So many opinions, so little time. Below is a handy-dandy, continually updated, track-by-track summary of what critics are writing about The Flaming Lips new album Oczy Mlody, each linked to its source. (As for opinions from the source of its creation: Wayne Coyne’s opinions on the new album and the band’s process making it are here.)

Oczy Mlody

“Opening with the title track, the two-minute instrumental intro buzzes with otherworldly hums and warbling synth. It’s the kind of music you would expect to hear in the elevator of a spaceship.”

“The music effortlessly guides the listener into a world of hypnotic sounds and warm melodies…”

“The instrumental title track encapsulates the album’s duality in musical form, with errantly puttering bass and wetly trembling beat behind a typically wistful keyboard figure: the combination of poignant melody and abrasive experimentalism that recalls The Residents, a comparison that crops up time and gain throughout Oczy Mlody.”

“…the self-titled opening overture and the first song “How??” make immediately clear, the album feels completely of this moment, with its gorgeous icy palette of laptop beats, glitchy sequencers, and shimmering mellotron strings.”

How??

“…rises with the chirps of birds before proggy organs and piercing snare drums slink in.”

“Wayne Coyne’s fragile voice desolately sketches a dystopian tableau of isolation – “I tried to tell you, but I don’t know how” – interrupted by vocal effects and darting instrumental tangents: dark sentiments draped in a sweet melody, seething with musical extremism.”

“Loose, half-hearted commentary…with mention of “White trash rednecks” and calls to “Legalize it, every drug right now” and a satirical nostalgia for the “baby guns” of a militant youth.”

“Far from putting away childish things Oczy Mlody suggests we should embrace the innocence of youth. How speaks about being young and killing everyone if “they fucked with us” with “baby guns” but it in this context sounds more like the gung-ho bravado of political leaders. When adults are described as behaving like children, they’re often just behaving like adults.”

There Should Be Unicorns

“…as a whole, Oczy Mlody feels like a powerful acid trip, with moments of insight, wonder, colour and fear appearing and disappearing constantly. This hallucinogenic voyage is first encapsulated on There Should Be Unicorns where the sun hovers above the horizon for hours, purpled eyed unicorns, day-glow strippers and re-aligned police officers embrace a future full of love.”

“…the tipping point to the madness of the album. It’s a more sinister Pink Floyd–like time warp, with an ominous buildup to lyrics like: “I hope the swans don’t die … There should be unicorns / The ones with the purple eyes and not the green eyes.” The nirvana-floating purple unicorns are the high-point, heavenly mattress to a tied-together universe. The downside: “Whatever they give them, they shit everywhere.”

“A great example of Coyne’s au courant goof-lunacy can be found on the terpsichorean “There Should Be Unicorns,” where, despite the loveliness of the the mythological one-horned horse, “they shit everywhere.”

“The hazy “There Should Be Unicorns” begins with a weird wish list that starts with unicorns “ones with purple eyes, not the green eyes” and continues to include edible butterflies and motorcycle stunts. But then Reggie Watts, now best known as James Corden’s bandleader on “The Late, Late Show,” shows up and raises the intensity as he talks, in his best James Earl Jones impression, about “the end of the world and the beginning of a new love.”

“Rife with nonlinear thought processes constructing a wishlist that’s part Tina Belcher daydream and part Dadaist aberration. Reggie Watts closes out the track with a spoken-word guest spot where he expounds on the ideal scenario wished for in this song, specifying that the desired unicorns are “the one with the purple eyes, not the green eyes,” while lamenting that regardless of diet “they shit everywhere.” His part even inches toward social commentary as he strategizes that “If the police show up, we will give them so much money that they can retire from their shitty, violent jobs.”

“The lyrical content of ‘There Should Be Unicorns’ follows a similar psychedelic, drug-addled vein. To be fair, the entire album is basically a projectile spew of Coyne’s conscious and, perhaps, unconscious mind. But it works.”

Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)

“Sunrise (Eyes Of The Young) documents the moment where nature reveals itself to be red in tooth and claw. “The sunrise insists on gladness, but how can I be glad, now my flower is dead…you’re showing me the truth, but I don’t want to believe you” croons Coyne as the band come close to the grandeur of Do You Realise? for the only time on the album. There is however, some peace made by the song’s close as the power of love and imagination is embraced. It’s a glimpse of hope.”

“A meditation on death, the placid “Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)” may come off musically as the most obvious cousin of Yoshimi but then there’s the added wrinkle that the entire first verse is borrowed from a song by new Flaming Lips’ BFF Miley Cyrus…”

“It’s the prettiest sounding album the Lips have made in years, thanks to Drozd’s masterful flair for orchestrating. That’s particularly true of one of the catchiest tracks on the album, “Sunrise (Eyes Of The Young),” which debuted in a slightly different form on the band’s collaborative Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz album. Amid pitch-shifted piano strikes and a warped electronic heartbeat, Coyne’s unique cracking falsetto soars as he ruminates on the phantom limb ache of love and loss…”

Nigdy Nie (Never No)

“Juddering vibrato organ and muscular psych-funk bass underpin the sighing wordless vocal…”

“…dark, lush funk…”

Galaxy I Sink

“The group breaks the monotony with spaghetti Western guitar and cinematic strings, and they spend they next few songs exploring hypnotic drumming, fuzzy synths and deep textures.”

“Coyne sees the universe in a giant eye, and his own life in the specks floating in his own frazzled eye balls.”

One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill

“…finds the protagonist on a hunt, only to have the whole thing backfire (literally) whilst attempting to blow out the brains of a wizard. The very things he’s attempting to kill fix him up. Guns and violence are, in the world of The Flaming Lips, childlike in their idiocy, wielded by morons of Elmer Fudd proportions. Healing and understanding comes from nature and wonder.”

“With booming percussion and a simmering tension in its electronic effects, “One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill” feels culled from the same darkness as The Terror, but its decidedly fabulist imagery diverts it down a different path.”

“There are times when “One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill” sounds like it’s going to spin off into a Kanye West rant from “Yeezus” and times when Wayne Coyne’s haunting vocals seem set to lead us to a Radiohead remix. It’s all a setup — the tense bass, the menacing synthesizer bits, the dance beat — for a dark tale of hunting wizards in which the narrator is wounded by his own bullets and saved by the same wizards he was hunting. Paired with the sweet “Do Glowy,” it feels like it could have come from a musical episode of “Stranger Things.”

“And typically, the most satisfying, fulfilled piece here comes with one of the silliest titles…”

Do Glowy

“The slurred hallucination of “Do Glowy” incorporates insectile effects and a reference to predatory flowers in order to transport us to another world…”

“…recounts a night, where the world is dripping and glowing and the flowers are carnivorous.”

Listening to the Frogs with Demon Eyes

“Musically it’s about as coherent as its narrator as it constantly shifts moods never sitting still for a moment. Sometimes it brings the fear, only to suddenly become playful and elegant. The prog/classical strains that drive the explorations of Listening To The Frogs With Demon eyes redress the balance of an album that is predominantly electronic in construction, but the hippy rhetoric remains in lines like “I can’t see the moon though I know it’s there, I can’t see the end but I know it is there, I can’t see the sun but I feel it’s there, I can’t see your love but I know it is there” which encapsulate Coyne’s ability to couple the tragedy and beauty of existence.”

“Uses nature noises and glistening strings to ease us back to Earth…”

“Coyne’s vocal recalls Neil Young at his most meander-thal, as he offers a hazy, fragile musing upon nature and space in heavily lysergic terms, with the drifting synths, strings and guitars providing music to match.”

The Castle

“…more beautifully constructed nonsense.”

“Coyne channels his grief over the suicide of a friend into hyperbolic fairytale imagery that gives over to the darkness of a lost “invisible war” and declaration that “The castle can never be rebuilt again,” the power of grief channeled through allegory adding dimension to a track that could easily otherwise be construed as mawkish.”

“A plaintive response to a friend’s suicide, her mind characterised as a castle which “can never be rebuilt, no way”. It’s a touching monument built from the rubble of an emotional ground zero.”

“…another earnestly romantic pop song that finds Coyne evoking fantasy imagery to admire the beauty and mind of the woman he loves…”

“Downright serene, with Beach Boys-y vocal harmonies, hip-hop drums and plinky guitar…”

“You can practically see the saints and the Santas dancing and prancing through the soft wintry snow.”

“…although musically it is more of a lament than a celebration. Its imagery meanwhile comes straight from the films of Hayao Miyazaki.”

Almost Home (Blisko Domu)

“The comedown comes in the shape of Almost Home, the musical equivalent of clicking your heels or taking long slow deep breaths. Its relaxed chiming lope comes as something of a relief after an album full of twists and hidden depths.”

We A Famly

“…a feel-good call-and-response duet between Coyne and Miley Cyrus. Beginning with electronic sequencer bloops that cascade downward to form a polyrhythmic waterfall, Coyne yearns over a star-crossed love, long separated, and his own emotional thawing after a “long cold winter.” Cyrus responds sweetly, unable to imagine life without him. Then, with the simple refrain, “It’s you and me… we a family,” the song transforms into an anthem of belonging and renewed hope.”

“…the album’s much needed parting of the clouds in its last moments. It’s not an accident that Cyrus shows up to duet with Coyne to sing the record’s uplifting conclusion about togetherness.”

“…sunny anthemic rock simplicity…”

“Cyrus props up for the sun-drenched, free festival electro vibes of We a Famly…”

“Where pixies and nymphs go, so goes Miley Cyrus, whose presence could signal pop splashiness or an even deeper leap into the swirling goldmine of psychedelia. Their collaboration here, “We a Family,” feels like something that could have existed on the Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz album—all chipper, sing-songy, and warped—until it begins racing and bucking like a wild hyper-stallion.”

“Features Cyrus singing an uplifting melody about “Jesus and the spaceships comin’ down.”

“It’s in this song that the drowsy mood is yanked away for an uplifting lament of togetherness, friendship and hope. While the track experiments with overt AutoTune, Miley’s southern drawl is still unmistakable as it crawls into the second verse.”

Overall

“The Lips have hit on an intriguing new combination — the unexpectedly wide intersection between prog rock and hip-hop and dance music.”

“The Flaming Lips’ latest reality-bending concept album, Oczy Mlody, represents yet another unexpected turn. But what’s most surprising is how it manages to embrace the band’s past, while still searching and propelling itself into uncharted waters. Produced by The Flaming Lips and longtime collaborator Dave Fridmann, Oczy Mlody marries the caustic improvisational urgency of 2009’s Embryonic with the lush orchestral pop arrangements of 1999’s The Soft Bulletin. It layers the goosebumps-raising, horror flick dissonance of 2013’s The Terror atop the lavish melodies, droning synths and flittering electronics that recall the celebratory bravado of 2002’s Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. Oczy Mlody also soothes the band’s recent dread-inducing anxiety with a newfound consciousness-altering serenity.”

“The Flaming Lips’ oddball sensibilities have led them down many a rabbit hole over the past four decades, and Oczy Mlody chops up the best bits of that kaleidoscopic past and reconfigures them into something fresh and new that’s also as oddly familiar as a favorite fable. With so much malignant nonsense going on the world today, immersing oneself in the soothing strangeness of top-shelf Flaming Lips isn’t mere escapism—it’s catharsis.”

“Between the stunning arrangements, psychedelic synths and imaginative songwriting, Oczy Mlody is everything you could hope for from a band you don’t know what to expect from.”

“Whether you enjoy The Flaming Lips’ 15th album or not will mostly depend on your tolerance for silliness.”

“It’s possible that Oczy Mlody will disappoint those looking for an easy hit, or the sound of old-school Lips, but for those willing to persist and explore, it’s a work of nuance and intelligence.”

“It’s a lovely, silly, serious work that draws one in despite the bursts of utopian cosmo-babble.”

“On first impressions, Oczy Mlody is a confusing and frustrating listen with little in the way of melodies or hooks to grab on to. Instead, Coyne and his cohorts have created an album that is somewhat abstract. It’s a soft focus affair that can be difficult to grasp, with ideas coming into view, only to disappear into a fog of ambient electronic noise or dissipate in under a wave of reverb and delay. Coyne’s vocals retain that peculiar damaged, childlike quality, but they too are often part of the sound of the whole. He drifts in and out, almost daring his audience to pick out lyrics and make sense of them. This is an album that requires patience to get to grips with, but given time it reveals itself to be one of the band’s most thought provoking and enveloping works to date.”

“…somewhere in the haze lurks their old knack for writing great, off-kilter pop songs that reflect and escape the bewildering world around us.”

Oczy Mlody rolls hard across dizzy topographies with the Dungeons & Dragons lyricism that would make you punch its penman if it didn’t somehow make freaky fairy tales seem conversational and contemporary.”

“Despite the utter strangeness that permeates Oczy Mlody, Coyne and co. rein in their most confetti-fueled excesses, keeping themselves tethered to the terrestrial even when they let their heads drift up into the clouds. Like a bizarre, nonsensical dream with roots that can nevertheless be traced back to very identifiable emotions and anxieties, this album unfurls into a wonderland of both ostentatious symbolism and purposeful absurdity.”

“While still whimsical, the album is sonically tighter than their most recent couple of records. The lyrics are no less “what the fuck?” inducing, but the record depends more on smooth melodies and sounds than purposeful but ineffective inconsistencies. Similar to The Soft Bulletin (1999) and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002), more traditional song structures and smoother melodies make the album accessible while retaining its unique quirks.”

“As usual, The Flaming Lip’s Oczy Mlody sounds like the soundtrack to the best sci-fi novel you’ve always dreamed about reading, or the background noise to your late-night, drug-filled weird thoughts.”

“A schlocky rock opera…decidedly more stripped back…puts a fresh gleam on the Lips’ usual pucker. The album features a very loose story about the fictional, titular drug that makes people sleep for three months and dream of having sex on unicorns, but the Lips play it so understatedly that it’s easier to get lost in their cold, minimalistic electronic soundscapes. Frontman Wayne Coyne has said he drew inspiration from both Syd Barrett and A$AP Rocky for the music, though there’s a little Neil Young in the vocals and Goldfrapp in the arrangements – its full depth is just not readily apparent from the start.”

“Ultimately, like many of The Flaming Lips’ best albums, Oczy Mlody is a work of meditation and escape, but also one that combats evil forces with positivity and empathy, a search for light amid the cosmic darkness that surrounds us. After so many releases, maybe it’s been easy to take The Flaming Lips’ unpredictability for granted or grow numb to its oddball surprises. But where most bands at this point in their careers might be tempted to downshift, one has to marvel at how The Flaming Lips has remained as productive and creatively curious as ever.”

“If there’s a theme to be found running throughout Oczy Mlody, it’s that of a fairy tale land gone awry, twisted by violence, fear and hatred. Coyne frequently speaks of magical beings and creatures over a soundtrack that might well be some of the most threatening and darkened music The Flaming Lips has ever produced. It’s hard not to equate the idea of destroying a beautiful land full of hope and amazing inhabitants with the political landscape developing in the US and here in Europe. It’s also possible that alongside Polish books, Coyne’s been dabbling with the concepts found in Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses Of Enchantment, a book that delves into the psychological depths of fairy tales, or perhaps the punks have been taking acid again, and are starting to feel the passage of time. Not only is this an album where wonder and horror clash, but the concepts of age, wisdom and idiocy, and being really, really stoned all find their place too.”

“For a brief amount of time—or at least the length of a Flaming Lips record—we have a sugar-sweet, marshmallow-soft, rainbow-fueled utopia where “If the police show up / We will give them so much money that they can retire from their shitty, violent jobs / And live the greatest lives that they’ve ever lived / And we will be high / And the love generator will be turned up to its maximum / And we’ll get higher / When at last, the sun comes up in the morning.” Here’s to hoping the love generator lasts all year. I want to live in this world—everyone would want to live in this world. The Flaming Lips do live in this world, and thank god for that! They give us some hope in the darkness that lately seems so all-consuming.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s