The Flaming Lips, “Oczy Mlody”
The Flaming Lips
Thirty-one years after the release of The Flaming Lips’ full-length debut Hear It Is comes Oczy Mlody, proving that Wayne Coyne is no less oblong than he was in 1986. The oddball, acid-laced soliloquies that characterized Coyne’s Mad Hatter aesthetic from the start are still part-and-parcel of what drives his merry-to-morose ensemble. Only now, rather than utilize the edges of a power trio’s might and abilities, The Flaming Lips is a mob, a gaggle of psychedelic geese chattering and clattering at once with only occasional (but no less potent) dips into the dreamily narcotic pop that made 1999’s The Soft Bulletin and 2002’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots the sort of hits that would demark the band as part of a greater commercial consciousness.
Coming from a band that’s long been fascinated with all things Pink Floyd (see Coyne’s Syd Barrett–like mien as psilocybin-spiked singer, and of course the re-recording the epic psychological fugue that is The Dark Side of the Moon), 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. 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.” “One Night While Hunting For Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill” is self-explanatory: all fairies and warlocks must be shot down.
Not everything caught in the sinister ditziness of Oczy Mlody is mean spirited and vicious. “The Castle” is equally as madcap as the pooping equines and dead wizards, and its discordant note-bending makes it far more lush, but it also speaks to the glee and joy inside Coyne’s great Technicolor freak out. “Her skull was a mighty moat / Her brain was the castle,” he sings. “The castle is brighter than a thousand Christmas trees.” You can practically see the saints and the Santas dancing and prancing through the soft wintry snow. 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.
It’s an apt-enough description of Cyrus, yes, but it also encompasses the back-and-forth, speed-then-slow harrow of Oczy Mlody, too. Trippiness changes with the ways people trip, and even after all this time, The Lips are still following the crooked path.