Ogniste Usta, Oczy Mlody: The Flaming Lips try Polish

Today saw the release of the new album by cult American psych-rockers The Flaming Lips, entitled ‘Oczy Mlody.’ In addition to the album title and title track, three additional song titles also feature Polish words: ‘Nigdy Nie (Never No),’ ‘Do Glowy’ and ‘Almost Home (Blisko Domu).’

The not-quite grammatical Polish phrase, which means ‘Eyes of the Young’ in English, is also in use as an Instagram hashtag by the band:

So who is frontman Wayne Coyne‘s new Polish girlfriend? We had the same thought, but apparently the new album’s Polish connection comes from a Polish novel Coyne randomly picked up in a used bookstore – ‘Blisko Domu‘ by… Erskine Caldwell. The irony here, of course, is that Blisko Domu isn’t a Polish novel; Caldwell was an American writer from Georgia, whose work was pre-occupied with social problems (poverty, racism) in the Southern US. That his 1962 novel ‘Close to Home’ – about a southern man breaking cultural taboos by sleeping with a coloured woman – was even translated into Polish is a bit random, let alone it finding its way into Coyne’s hands. Despite not understanding a word, Coyne liked something about the book and kept it in the band’s studio, where he frequently picked it up, underlining certain Polish phrases that jumped out at him; these phrases then began to inform the direction of the album’s themes and lyrics.

If you listen to the album (which is now streaming – jump to bottom) looking for Polish cultural connections or language, you won’t actually find anything particularly Polish about it. There aren’t any lyrics in Polish; in fact some of the cosmic stream-of-consciousness psycho-babble spouted about “edible butterflies,” “frog dust” and going inside “your mind hole” – though quintessential Lips lyrics – will probably make a lot less sense to non-Polish speakers than a reading of the novel Coyne used as source material would. The point on the album where the influence of the Polish language can be felt most directly is when the words ‘do głowy’ (to the head) inspire these lyrics from Coyne in the song, ‘Do Glowy’:

[Verse 1]
Glowy, glowy, glow
Let’s get together, yeah
Glow, glow, glow, glow
Glarey and glarey, yeah
Doin’ it right, doin’ it like you care
Under the tree where the spider got in your hair

[Verse 2]
Dewy, dewy, dew
Let’s get together, yeah
Drip, drip, drippy glow
Glowy and drippy, yeah
Dewing in it right, dewing it like you care
Runnin’ all night through the flowers that eat us there

Sounds like Coyne was on a lot of glowies when he wrote that one. Here he explains the album’s title, revealing exactly how much thought and research went into it:

The profundity is a bit lost on us, Wayne, but we’re sure Polish fans will still appreciate the loopy attempt to connect with their language. You’ll have to work on your pronunciation before making the trip, but we assume a Flaming Lips tour of Poland is now a sure thing. Known as one of the best live bands period, we’ll certainly be disappointed if there aren’t any Polish gigs on the Lips’ next tour. [We can imagine Coyne now, on stage in Warsaw, gyrating in a neon worm suit while shouting to the crowd, “Do the Glowy, everybody!”]

The new album is garnering a fair amount of praise so far, and if you’re a Flaming Lips fan, you’ll find that ‘Oczy Mlody’ – their 14th overall and first proper LP since 2013’s ‘The Terror’ – fits right into their niche of weird, wondrous, sometimes spastic, always shimmering, overtly opiated space rock. Listen to it here:

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