The Flaming Lips
Warner Bros. Records
Flaming Lips = Sun Ra + all weirdness since
The Flaming Lips have always been a mishmash of Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, fused together on the Dark Side of the Moon on Sgt. Pepper’s watch. The trash-compacted cosmic debris sounds that we’ve come to expect and adore surface once again on their new album, Oczy Mlody. It’s all here: the cold, clean drums, hornets’ nest bass buzz and keys straight out of an evil toy land. The mindfuck sorcerer supreme, Wayne Coyne, is still in charge. Coyne brings his lo-fi discontent and high-strung anxieties, keeping the lights on at the circus and making sure all the tents are open for business.
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. The track “There Should Be Unicorns” is 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.”
The standout track, “The Castle,” delivers more beautifully constructed nonsense. “Her face was a fairytale … Her skull was a mighty moat / And her brain was the castle … A castle brighter than 1,000 Christmas trees … The castle taller than the Northern Lights.” The craziness continues on “One Night While Hunting,” a song about fairies, digging up riches and shooting out wizard brains—a typical day on planet Flaming Lip. “Listening To The Frogs With Demon Eyes” is more sideways, brainwave fun: “Hiding ourselves in the trees … Have you ever seen someone die? / In the summertime / Is that what your demon eyes see?” And of course, it asks the existential question: “Have you ever gone through the hole in the night sky?”
Most bands pour gasoline everywhere and then light matches in hopes that something catches fire. The Flaming Lips have never been that subtle. They just do their Flaming Lip thing and leave the hits to the philistines. After the shitshow called 2016, Oczy Mlody is a welcome treasure to a new year where we find ourselves at the point of thinking we may still have it together before “Jesus and the spaceships come down.” 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. –Russ Holsten