Published Jan 11, 2017After releasing Embryonic in 2009, the Flaming Lips focused their attention on a string of inessentials — a throng of deluxe reissues, collaboration albums and throwaway EPs on MP3 players jammed into novelty items. They recovered in 2013 for The Terror LP and Peace Sword EP, seemingly to prove that, despite the detritus, the psych rock mainstays still had what it took to make a unified statement.
Unfortunately, Oczy Mlody fails to keep building on the momentum of its studio album predecessors. Though the record builds on The Terror's cerebral paranoia, its occasional forays into Casiotone drum beats and nonsensical lyrics make it an uneven, confusing effort. During these moments, it's questionable if even the Lips knew what they were doing here, and songs like "There Should Be Unicorns" and "Do Glowy" do little to dispel that myth. The pitch-shifted vocals and childish lyrics should be fun, but in front of the sparse haunt of the instrumentals, they just sound out of place.
Most of Wayne Coyne's lyrics over the last 20 years have dealt with finding solace in sadness, but where The Terror was an unflinchingly bleak suite that turned even the sun into a flaming-hot harbinger of doom, Oczy Mlody's occasional drifts into psychedelic nonsense undermine any political thought happening here. Which is a shame — tracks like "Sunrise" and "Almost Home" do their best to return to the band's Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi glory days, but the album as a whole is too inconsistent to get the job done.
The best moments here are either instrumental or wordless, when Coyne's voice — which, though never technically impressive, always fit perfectly with each album's sound, whether it was the ragged bombast of their Soft Bulletin-era epics or the hushed haunt of The Terror — becomes a whispering (or even whistling) texture. Lyrically, though, Coyne appears to have exhausted any last nuggets of profundity he once had. (Warner)