Going against conventional wisdom, he judged the book by the cover. “It has a really great painting of a slightly abstract woman’s face and you can’t tell if she’s sweating or she’s crying,” Coyne told The Huffington Post in an interview about the new album. “The fonts that they use and the coloring ― it was just something that aesthetically appealed to me.”
Coyne left the book lying around the band’s studio and in their downtime, band members would flip through the pages to find words that stuck out. No members of the band understood the language, and so any appeal to the words was entirely visceral.
Much later on, Coyne discovered that the phrase “oczy mlody” roughly translates to “eyes of the young.” He liked that.
“I think in the beginning, [with] ‘oczy mlody,’ we would joke about how it sounded like a designer drug that was made in the future,” said Coyne, who then explained how that was relevant to a more wide-reaching ethos for the band. “We are always kind of urging the pharmaceutical companies to make drugs that we can have fun on. Let’s just get on with it. Why do we have to pretend like we have some ailment so we can get the drugs that we all want to take?”
Although they didn’t know what the phrase meant, by attaching the belief it sounded like a futuristic drug ― while also knowing they might be alone in believing that ― the band was able to use the phrase as a metaphor for their philosophy in creating music.
“It’s all a fantasy and it’s all just made-up stuff, [but] I think things like seeing the Polish words, it probably doesn’t trigger the same sorts of things for everybody, but that’s all you can have ― this little kernel of a meaning that pushes you forward into it,” said Coyne. “And we always approach our music like, of course it makes sense ― ‘Don’t you know what it means?!’”
With “Oczy Mlody,” the band continues its trend of embracing new production technology to evolve their music further from their more traditional rock band roots. Much like the futuristic drugs Coyne wishes pharmaceutical companies would put on the market, the singer’s goals for this latest Flaming Lips album (as it seems with all their albums) is to both mine familiar emotions while hopefully accessing new and foreign feelings as well.
“It’s always a little bit of a struggle to get both ― I mean reaching all the way back into your subconscious for some emotional thing [and] at the same time going as far into the fucking future, connecting the two and seeing if it can work,” explained Coyne. “I don’t know think it always works but sometimes it does.”
A standout that certainly works on “Oczy Mlody” is the track, “The Castle,” which is both on the surface a sweet, straightforward-seeming love song with a rock melody and an electronic-filled multi-minute-long unleashing of sorrow. The song came out of a grieving period after a friend of the band’s committed suicide.
As Coyne described it, the song was much sadder in the first version. The band tried to make it happier to honor how they’d remember her in the future ― using fairytale-esque language the friend herself might use ― and found a perfect symbiosis between the competing ideas.
“Surprises can happen,” Coyne said earlier in the interview when talking about writing his songs. In those rare, but special moments when that happens, “It’s just so much more fun.”