Oklahoma’s space cadets return to what they do best – writing top tunes.
AFTER THE FREAKY DIVERSIONS, WAYNE COYNE AND CO REACQUAINT THEMSELVES WITH TUNES ON ALBUM 15.
THE FLAMING LIPS OCZY MLODY BELLA UNION, OUT 13 JANUARY
Followers of Oklahoma City’s self-styled “fearless freaks” have been reminded in recent years that it can be a long and strange trip trying to keep up with The Flaming Lips. Having established themselves in the ’00s as purveyors of life-affirming psychedelic anthems that made you laugh and cry and ponder the very nature of existence itself, after 2006’ s sometimes overconsciously commercial At War With The Mystics, they veered for the weird again with the lo-fi jams of Embryonic in 2009 and the sci-fi dread of The Terror four years later. Along the way, however, something was lost – namely The Flaming Lips’ gift for classic songwriting. While Oczy Mlody has been talked up by Wayne Coyne as sounding like “Syd Barrett meets A$AP Rocky trapped in a fairy tale from the future”, it’s actually the point where the band reconnect with The Tunes. As an hour-long psychedelic record constructed from R&B sounds, it leads the listener by the hand into its otherworld, but this time around its standout melodies – the helpless and beautiful How??, the achingly happy/sad Sunrise (Eyes Of The Young) – are both heart-tugging and indelible. If there are passages, especially in its second half, where Oczy Mlody is a purposely disorienting experience where the arrangements seldom settle for long before taking unexpected twists and turns, there’s always an earworming hook waiting around the bend. It finishes with the brilliant country longing of We A Famly, a duet between Coyne and Miley Cyrus, where both imagine “Jesus and his spaceships coming down.” The Flaming Lips know they can always weird us out. With Oczy Mlody, they remind us once again that they’re also great songwriters. HHHH Listen To: How?? | Sunrise (Eyes Of The Young) | We A Famly
THERE’S ALWAYS AN EARWORMING HOOK WAITING AROUND THE BEND.
Over the rainbow: The Flaming Lips, with Wayne Coyne (centre), keep it typically low-key.