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The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody album review

Psychedelic veterans reset the controls for a starry synth-rock supernova

Cover art for The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody

Restlessly experimental even in the depths of middle age, the Flaming Lips give their psychedelic space-rock formula a heavily electronic reboot on Oczy Mlody. Their previous studio album, The Terror, was a darker affair, informed by singer Wayne Coyne separating from his long-term partner, and by multi-instrumentalist Steve Drozd relapsing briefly into heroin addiction. Their fifteenth album (which borrows its title from a line in a vintage Polish paperback) sounds warmer and richer, from its lysergically fuzzy mood to its goofy guest vocals that include Miley Cyrus.

An immersive musical fairy tale involving wizards and dragons, Oczy Mlody could have been a retreat into childlike whimsy, but it’s mostly a thing of widescreen wonder and vivid beauty, sounding in places like Super Furry Animals with a Hollywood-sized special-effects budget. Coyne’s plaintive, croaky, awestruck voice becomes a golden thread woven into the surging electro-gospel swells and cascading, gleaming analogue synth melodies of There Should Be Unicorns or The Castle. Cyrus makes her cameo on the anthemic closer We A Family, a creamy swirl of tinselly chimes and shuddering percussive squelches. A couple of lesser tracks bloat into shapeless abstraction, but overall this is a sonically lavish and formally bold reinvention.

An immersive musical fairy tale involving wizards and dragons, Oczy Mlody could have been a retreat into childlike whimsy, but it’s mostly a thing of widescreen wonder and vivid beauty, sounding in places like Super Furry Animals with a Hollywood-sized special-effects budget. Coyne’s plaintive, croaky, awestruck voice becomes a golden thread woven into the surging electro-gospel swells and cascading, gleaming analogue synth melodies of There Should Be Unicorns or The Castle. Cyrus makes her cameo on the anthemic closer We A Family, a creamy swirl of tinselly chimes and shuddering percussive squelches. A couple of lesser tracks bloat into shapeless abstraction, but overall this is a sonically lavish and formally bold reinvention.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.