Presenting: the day-tripping album of 2017 — Oczy Mlody by the Flaming Lips. The album, released this past January, carries the listener through many different universes, many different soundscapes with Wayne Coyne as the pinwheel-eyed pilot with smoke coming from his ears.
The album, the Lips’ fourteenth, starts with its title track, a daydreaming instrumental that paints clouds on the back of your eyelids. If you time the consumption of X, Y and Z correctly “How??” should be the pupil-expansion period, your forward-march step into the next realm. It’s a psychedelic call-to-arms with Coyne on the soapbox, echoed megaphone in hand. “Legalize it / Every drug / Right now,” he sings. “Are you with us? / Are you burning out?” Sweet spring leaks all over the room.
“There Should Be Unicorns” is a trip down the conveyor belt leading into Coyne’s head. A pre-set Bossa Nova Casio beat romps forward as spatial effects spew about. The psyche groove of “Nigdy Nie (Never No)” pushes the listener out like Sandra Bullock in Gravity, attached only to a rope, hanging, floating until the dirtiest, filthiest bass knocks the calm like propelling space debris.
Timpanis rumble with a low-key EDM shuffle on “One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill.” Coyne sounds so far away, as if his voice is arriving late on a soundwave, through the pupil slowly. “Galaxy I Sink” prattles along with a toy drum marching beat and Coyne singing like a hypnotic child. Eventually orchestral sweeps unfurl sounding like the cinematic third-act ending to an film.
“Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)” and “The Castle” harken back to the washed-out beauty of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and Soft Bulletin–pop music made of sunshine. Starchild Miley Cyrus shows up on the final track “We A Famly” singing a verse or two and backing up Coyne on the chorus. It strings along with a fledgling guitar and the power of pure positivity.
The Lips have been busy as ever releasing live albums and endless singles, giving Dark Side of the Moon and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band a crusty brown acid facelift and collaborating with Miley Cyrus, but this is their first official album since 2009’s The Terror, a detour of mostly unlistenable keyboard sustain. Oczy Mlody is the Lips’ first truly great set of songs since their gold rush classic, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots from 2002.