The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody (Album Review)

With three Grammy Awards to their name The Flaming Lips are widely regarded as one of the best bands of their generation. From the popular success of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and The Soft Bulletin to the experimental Clouds Taste Metallic and At War With the Mystics this is a band who have earned their success and have never been afraid to make the music they want to make.

It is clear that Oczy Mlody embraces both creative and melodic songwriting and Wayne Coyne and co have clearly continued to adapt into the modern sound. Much like fellow left field household name Bon Iver’s 22 a Million, this album is full of modern hip hop influences. The album has a focus on beats and basslines which is cleverly re-focused onto the futuristic musicianship they have pioneered for decades. This record is much more than crunching beats, with every song a new element and further interest are added. One thing is clear – this is the kind of record you have to listen to repeatedly to identify all of the elements.

Opener and title track, ‘Oczy Mlody’, gently develops from haunting introduction to the perfect bridge into the second track ‘How?’. Here, Coyne’s vocals take on a haunting and almost falsetto tone, upping the haunting backing to an almost uncomfortable level. However you look at it, this is an LP which is going to make you feel something.

As the record progresses the tracks flow effortlessly into each other as layers of sound crash into contrasting feelings and vocals and beats politely take it in turn to take the lead. The layered effect between synthesisers, samples and traditional analogue instruments creates a curious sound combo, this combines wonderfully with distant vocals and the occasional hum of fuzzy feedback.

This is an album with clear singles and clear moments which are really going to work live, the songwriting and musicianship are well considered throughout but with a rebellious air of freedom. Lyrically this is a left field take on the current climate with political stand points taken in imaginative metaphors and a basic message of love, legalisation of drugs and embracing freedom wherever possible.

The record comes to a close with ‘A Family’ which features the saccharin vocals of long time contributor Miley Cyrus, this is a near perfect way to end an album that develops in beauty and stature. As a release there is a wonderful flow to this album in its entirety, with the tracks seamlessly linking together and building and dropping into each other.

The Flaming Lips have spent decades developing their approach to playful, intelligent and experimental songwriting, which has culminated to produce one of the (very) early contenders for Album of the Year.

Oczy Mlody is out on January 13th via Bella Union.

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