The Flaming Lips Oczly Mlody Warner Bros.
In recent years, Wayne Coyne has spent a lot of time being perplexing on Instagram with Miley Cyrus. And that’s important, because on Oczy Mlody – The Flaming Lips’ 15th studio album – there’s been a shift back towards melodic, feel-good vibe of The Soft Bulletin days. And I’m willing to bet Coyne’s rebound into musical joyousness is due to his friendship with Cyrus, which came in the wake of the end of his long-term relationship in 2012 – the year before The Flaming Lips’ notably dark album The Terror.
As a result, Oczy Mlody presents a reinvigoration. A good Flaming Lips album is all about scale, and while it’s not as boldly experimental as some of their past work (think Yoshimi part 2, rather than Zaireeka), the album still manages to map out worlds within itself. Sunrise is an onomatopoeic, piano-punctured ballad, while Nighy Nie (Never No) is the whole of At War With the Mystics crammed into one track – snipped hand-claps overlay slaloming synths, before a blown-out bass groove acts as a wordless chorus. Galaxy I Sink starts as a staccato nightmare and ascends into a BBC philharmonic-style journey score.
And then there’s We A Family – which is in the spirit of the psychedelic attitude which led to The Flaming Lips releasing a Sgt. Pepper’s covers album back in 2014. Cyrus makes a perfect contribution, euphorically singing: “Flying along the engines hummin’/ Jesus and the spaceships comin’ down/ Oh and I just can’t imagine life without you could ever happen now!” It ends with the triumphal repetition of “we a family”, uplifted by strings, harps and alien, arpeggiating sounds. Cyrus’s voice is curled in acts of studio wizardry, while the rampant positivity of the song embraces the always-lingering connotations of naming any group a ‘family’. Love, drugs and happiness swirl amongst the spaceman production. Sure, the Flips’ whole space-ride schtick, the galactic psychedelia aesthetic, might attract cynicism in 2017. But I’d argue that we need bands who aren’t crippled by their own self-awareness. Ones that are willing to have fun, and go big.