THE GRADE A-
BOTTOM LINE Dreamy prog rock infused with hip-hop swagger.
The Flaming Lips have long been indie-rock’s chameleons, ever experimenting with an eclectic mix of unexpected sounds and styles.
For “Oczy Mlody” (Warner Bros.), The Lips have hit on an intriguing new combination — the unexpectedly wide intersection between prog rock and hip-hop and dance music.
There are times when “One Night While Hunting for Faeries and Witches and Wizards to Kill” sounds like it’s going to spin off into a Kanye West rant from “Yeezus” and times when Wayne Coyne’s haunting vocals seem set to lead us to a Radiohead remix. It’s all a setup — the tense bass, the menacing synthesizer bits, the dance beat — for a dark tale of hunting wizards in which the narrator is wounded by his own bullets and saved by the same wizards he was hunting. Paired with the sweet “Do Glowy,” it feels like it could have come from a musical episode of “Stranger Things.”
“Oczy Mlody” sounds like both a trip and a journey, with most of the songs created from a similar palette of sounds that make the occasional surprises even more potent. The hazy “There Should Be Unicorns” begins with a weird wish list that starts with unicorns “ones with purple eyes, not the green eyes” and continues to include edible butterflies and motorcycle stunts. But then Reggie Watts, now best known as James Corden’s bandleader on “The Late, Late Show,” shows up and raises the intensity as he talks, in his best James Earl Jones impression, about “the end of the world and the beginning of a new love.”
Between the dark, lush funk of “Nigdy Nie (Never No)” and the sunny anthemic rock simplicity of “We A Family,” “Oczy Mlody” is the band’s most cohesive album since the days of “The Soft Bulletin” and seemingly yet another flirtation with a mainstream radio hit. But it also creates dreaminess pegged to a sense of purpose.
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