Kaleidoscopic, mellow music

The Flaming Lips' frontman Wayne Coyne (above).
The Flaming Lips' frontman Wayne Coyne (above).PHOTO: GEORGE SALISBURY

Trust Oklahoma outfit The Flaming Lips to keep music weird, 14 albums into their colourful career.

Even the stories surrounding the release of the album are offbeat. For instance, the quip by frontman Wayne Coyne about how their frequent collaborator and kooky pop star Miley Cyrus would often send him pictures of herself peeing.

Gross revelations aside, a buoyant and chipper Cyrus appears in typo-laden album closer We A Famly.

Oczy Mlody, a Polish term meaning "eyes of the young", is less euphoric pop than 2002 bestseller Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, but it is thankfully less gloomy and jarring than the band's last studio album, 2013's The Terror. It sees the band go back to what they do best - kaleidoscopic music that takes the listener on a mellow, mind-expanding trip.

This is no soundtrack album to leave on in the background and chill out to, though. There are plenty of moments that would jolt the listener out of a stupor, such as comedian Reggie Watts from The Late Late Show with James Corden suddenly doing a hilarious monologue about "love generators" and the ideal eye colour for unicorns in the second half of There Should Be Unicorns.



    The Flaming Lips

    Warner Bros

    4/5 stars

Several tracks, such as the curiously titled One Night While Hunting For Faeries And Witches And Wizards To Kill, has Coyne singing vivid, violent versions of Lewis Carroll-like fantasies.

Despite Coyne's claim in interviews that the album is inspired by modern rappers such as A$AP Rocky, there is little evidence that the band have gone hip-hop.

Warm synths envelop the tracks and electronic beats skitter about while Coyne's falsetto floats soothingly above the music, drenched in copious amounts of reverberation.

Sometimes, the weirdness is grounded in Coyne's regular, everyday experiences. Listening To The Frogs With Demon Eyes, for example, was inspired by him sitting by the stream and trying to take a picture of his dog with his camera phone.

As Coyne told music blog TheFutureHeart, the dog ended up with red eyes in the photo, due to the flash of the phone, hence lyrics contemplating what the pet sees through its "demon eyes" ("Glistening in the moonlight/ Listening to the frogs/Hiding ourselves in the trees/ Watching with demon eyes").

One marvels at the way Coyne can take something so mundane and turn it into another trippy number.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Kaleidoscopic, mellow music'. Print Edition | Subscribe