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.

Q (UK) - - Contents - TOM DOYLE

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.

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