Few artists have a discography as impressive as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. In just eight years, the Australian psychedelic rock band has released 16 full-length LPs, two live albums and an EP. What’s even more impressive is their unapologetic experimentation and intricately crafted concept albums. With each release, King Gizz morphs into a new form while maintaining the musical quirks the group has become famous for. For this reason, King Gizz has amassed a diehard fan base — Gizzheads, who, like apostles, bravely follow their idols through their musical journey and meticulously take note of every small detail presented to them.
I am not ashamed to say that I am a Gizzhead. Ever since I discovered the band, I have waited anxiously for new releases, memorized lyrics on the backs of vinyls I ordered from Australia and have spent far too much time reading lengthy fan theories. If you are looking for an unbiased review of K.G., their latest release, keep looking, but I think there is much to be gained from the thoughts of a mega-fan.
When all seven members of the band are playing at once, K.G. delivers a chaotic wall of sound which has become a staple for the band. Songs like “Automation” and “Ontology” feel like they were recorded in the middle of a high-energy jam sesh and are brimming with exciting ideas as the songs evolve. Even more welcome are the slower moments on this album. In previous releases such as Paper Mache Dream Balloon, the band demonstrated their ability to write less energetic acoustic tracks. This talent is put on full display on the tracks “Straws In The Wind” and “Honey,” which provide a welcome reprieve in between some of the album’s more intense tracks.
K.G. also demonstrates the band’s mastery of a dying art: creating cohesive listening experiences. The end of each track on the album contains a brief transition which allows the songs to flow into one another and helps make the experience of listening to the album from front to back enjoyable.
K.G. is a much more meditative album than what the band usually puts out. Amid a discography full of epic sci-fi ballads, it’s refreshing to see an album which takes a less narrative approach. K.G. spends its lengthy tracks dwelling on existentialism, love and the band’s gripes with modern society. The last two releases by King Gizz show a trend toward more overt political messages in their music. While not as political as those releases, songs like “Minimum Brain Size” and “The Hungry Wolf Of Fate” seem to continue the message of environmentalism the band has propagated.
Because it explores an abundance of genres and themes, King Gizz is bound to repeat itself. K.G. builds on the concept of Flying Microtonal Banana, one of the previous albums. For K.G. and Flying Banana, the name of the game is microtones, i.e. the frequencies in-between the 12 equal tones in typical Western scales. Microtones were used extensively in Flying Banana, and the band even crafted their own guitars with added frets to be able to play the nontraditional notes. Microtones are a common element in non-Western music and their usage in K.G. gives the album a strong Middle Eastern flair.
When I heard the first song “KGATLW” and discovered K.G. was going to be another microtonal album, I was excited. Flying Banana is one of my favorite albums by the band — it brimmed with potential that I felt could be explored much further. However, by the end of K.G., I was left disappointed.
Though some aspects of the microtonal sound are explored further in K.G., such as a greater devotion to Middle Eastern licks and rhythms, — K.G. leaves an overall impression of an inferior version of the band’s past work. King Gizz has only themselves to blame. With such a strong discography, the attempt to improve upon previously trodden ground should not be taken lightly. Even though I enjoyed K.G., when placed next to the band’s previous works — especially Flying Banana — it just doesn’t hold up.
As a devoted fan of King Gizz, I enjoyed K.G. as an amusing interlude between great albums. I hope the derivative nature of the album does not represent a trend for the band, and that they can get back to work on exploring their sound on the next album. For newcomers to King Gizz, go listen to Flying Banana or Nonagon Infinity, as I’m positive you’ll get more out of them than K.G.
Daily Arts Writer Kai Bartol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.