Trippy rock and roll for the slightly disenfranchised
I swear, every time a new Flaming Lips album comes out I have no idea who is in the band any more.
These are the people who partnered with Miley Cyrus to cover Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, shortly after making a collaborative album with Ke$ha, Nick Cave, and Erykah Badu. They’re ubiquitous, an iron clad flagship for alt rockers, head trippers, modern psychedelia, and experimental rock and goddamn roll.
The good news is, “Oczy Mlody” is still The Flaming Lips. It’s spacy and dark when it isn’t busy being bright and effervescent. The vocals echo, there are drones and static.
There continues to be an overall feeling that someone has slipped some weird alchemy into your drink, and you’re mere minutes from sliding into a neighboring reality.
They picked the album title and some of the song titles and lyrics from a secondhand Polish copy of “Blisko Domu,” primarily for their sound, not their meaning. If anyone’s Polish is sharp enough to help me not butcher “Oczy Mlody,” please feel free to send me a phonetic guide.
We start with the title track, echoing vibraphones and crackling rattling bass set the mood, without lyrics, for the rest of the album. This is going to be an experience, a ride. These sounds are going to do something to your brain that radio music does not.
The vocals on “How??” are distorted, chopped, and screwed with. Expect more of this throughout the album. If there’s one tiny iota of sound that can be fiddled with before being added to the track, they’ve fiddled.
Reggie Watts (!) drops some utterly amazing spoken word that borders on the ridiculous at the end of “There Should Be Unicorns.”
“Sunrise” has a floating euphoric feel that has a broad majesty to it. It leaves you feeling warm and detached, and then dumps you into “Nigdy Nie,” thick and voiceless with ambient rhythms cutting in and out amidst atonal bells, punctuated by bursts of crude staticky bass before cruising into a funky bass anthem.
“Galaxy I Sink” goes back to the echoing high of “Sunrise,” but now the music feels broken. It’s a skipping record, with the warbling devil talk of a cassette seconds before being hopelessly eaten by your tape deck.
My favorite song title on the album follows: “One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill.” I want a t-shirt with those words, and some sort of fabulous van art on it.
Things continue to get weirder and more dissonant as things proceed, “Listening to Frogs With Demon Eyes” is almost eight minutes long, and, you guessed it, has a bunch of nighttime frog croaks bookending either side of the song itself.
“The Castle” is the Yoshimi of this album, it’s listenable and melodic, though a little spacy. It’s going to be the track you hear on the radio, the one someone murders at karaoke, the one that might end up in a commercial. It’s also good, I love the arpeggiated major chord melody builds, I like the majestic imperiousness of the delivery. It’s fun.
Things finish out with “We A Family,” a thumping flight directly upward into sunlight and giddiness, leaving the listener with a sense of peace and positivity. It loops seamlessly back around to the first track, making it difficult, over time, to figure out where you are in the album. Maybe there isn’t a start or finish, that perception is based on where you step onto the carousel as it spins.
The Flaming Lips aren’t coming through here, or anywhere near here any time soon. Their tour is East Coast and Midwest currently. Keep your fingers crossed that they come west at some point.
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