The Flaming Lips are proudly weird. It doesn’t matter that they flirted with indie success during the Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots era or appeared in a 2013 Hyundai commercial—31 years, 14 albums and a metric ton of confetti into their careers, the Lips will always have a strong legacy of strange. They are, after all, the same dudes who spent years filming Christmas on Mars in frontman Wayne Coyne’s backyard, released vinyl pressed with blood, and decided long before the rest of us that Miley Cyrus might just be a fearless freak after all. But on Oczy Mlody Oklahoma City’s finest manage to build a bridge to the rest of us norms, making some of their must listenable and straight-up lovely music along the way.
Like Woody Allen’s Sleeper on acid (hey guys—named your next album for you) Oczy Mlody is the story of a group of people who take a drug that allows them to sleep for three months and experience surreal, unicorn-inhabited visions. It’s a loose structure at best, save for some particularly edibles-inspired lines (“There should be dayglow stripers, ones from the Amazon,” “White trash, red necks, earth worms eat the ground”), and a spoken word interlude in “There Should Be Unicorns” that expertly toes the line between creepy and thrilling.
The instrumentation here is expectedly psychedelic, anchored in both freeform jams and trip-hop grooves. But somehow the collective makes the two opposing forces, which read like they were picked via pulling genres out of a hat, actually work thanks in no small part to Steven Drozd’s delicate instrumental blending. Although a decidedly somber outing, there are still moments of delicate beauty, songs like “Sunrise” harkening back to Yoshimi’s sweet, echo-chamber pop aesthetics, and opening instrumental track “Oczy Mlody” setting a sufficiently spaced-out vibe. But nowhere is their gang of misfits as unified as the sun-streaked album closer “We a Famly.” Featuring Cyrus and her perfectly imperfect soprano, it’s a smoothed out, slap-happy battle cry, worthy of our dark times. It might be the freaks and weirdos against the world, but hey—at least we’re all in it together.