For the last few years the Oklahoma based freak rock outfit The Flaming Lips have been dabbling with pop music history. From their reinterpretation of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to their recent Miley Cyrus partnership, yet the group have stayed quiet with their own releases since 2013’s downer, drug fueled break up of The Terror.
Now they come back with Oczy Mlody and with the opening lyrics of “White trash rednecks/ Earthworms eat the ground/ Legalize it/ Every drug right now” the band drips back into their languid narcotic fueled sounds easily. This track, “How”, is a cryptic mix of skittering beats, warped vocals and electro pulses and it arrives after the gorgeous instrumental opening title track.
The tone is set and for fans of the band it will feel comforting in its psychedelic sprawl, but for everyone else those (along with the closer) will be the highpoints of this disk. When the Lips just float instead of being targeted on topics (the all-time classic Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots) or pop song focused (the brilliant The Soft Bulletin or underrated At War With The Mystics) they can become awfully dull to the un-chemically altered ears. That is the end result for Oczy Mlody; a spaced out, distant tone record.
Efforts like “There Should Be Unicorns” wander aimlessly for over five and half minutes while “The Galaxy I Sink” is a jumble of disjointed ideas. “Listening To The Frogs” goes on for what feels like ages and the best parts (eastern tinged strings, warbling background fuzz) don’t outway the sluggish pace. The piano and swelling sound that end “Sunrise” are neatly placed but there are too many tracks like “Nigdy Nie Never Know” which are simply filler.
A couple of the albums later tracks are pleasant (“The Castle” and the Miley Cyrus assisted closer “We Are Family”) and the overall tone feels more positive than The Terror or even Embryonic. One other major plus is the sonic quality/production as the band make every sound feel vibrant, yet things never congeal to any great purpose or truly joyful noise. The group aren’t going for individual songs here, more of an overall sonic environment; spacey mood music which, unfortunately never takes off.