King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - K.G. & L.W. Music Album Reviews

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - K.G. & L.W. Music Album Reviews

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - K.G. & L.W. Music Album Reviews
On this double album, the madly prolific psych-rock band synthesizes everything they do into compact songs that still allow their weirder impulses to flourish. 

Everything about King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is governed by perpetual forward motion, from their music’s relentless momentum to their frequent reinventions to their tendency to release new albums with the regularity of a Substack newsletter. But while there’s a lot of joy to be had in hitching yourself to the Melbourne psych-rockers’ careening locomotive, the group’s recent track record suggests they could benefit from erecting some guard rails, with the honky-glam hoedown of Fishing for Fishies and the doomsday thrash of Infest the Rats’ Nest veering too sharply into the silly and the sullen, respectively.

Of course, the nice thing about a band this prolific is that any missteps are swiftly left in the dust and a course correction is all but inevitable, and in King Gizzard’s case, not even a global pandemic can slow their roll. On top of dropping multiple live releases, two concert films, and a slew of Bandcamp keepsakes in recent months, King Gizzard recorded two albums’ worth of new material while in lockdown, with each member of the now-sextet laying down their parts in isolation at their respective home studios. The results have been delivered in two installments: K.G., released this past November, and its freshly minted counterpart, L.W. They’re discrete records, but interlock to form a continuous double album, wrapped inside a trilogy: K.G. and L.W. are being billed as the remaining parts of a triptych that began with 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana, where the band fully embraced the equilibrium-upsetting effects of quarter-tone tuning.

But while the works may be connected on a technical level, the K.G./L.W. combo deserves its own unique standing in the band’s labyrinthine catalog. Arriving in the wake of King Gizzard’s 10th anniversary, the albums serve the same function as the sprawling Freedom’s Goblin did for their equally industrious psych-punk peer Ty Segall: They cap a decade of furious activity by reconciling all of the band’s far-ranging influences into a complete, 360-degree portrait of the group. The wild stylistic variation in the King Gizzard canon has made them the kind of band where 10 different fans might name 10 different albums as their favorite; K.G./L.W. strives to be the one that everyone can agree on.

Bookended by two radically versions of their new de facto theme song “K.G.L.W.”—which sounds like a John Carpenter soundtrack given prog-folk and doom-metal makeovers—K.G./L.W. boasts a circular structure that recalls the group’s 2016 infinite-loop opus Nonagon Infinity. But the albums’ sense of cohesion is more than just a product of savvy sequencing. Over the course of these records, King Gizzard synthesize their entire musical palette—British psych-pop and proto-metal, German kosmische rock, West African rhythms, Middle Eastern melodies, sitar-speckled psychedelia, American roots music—into compact songs that still allow equal room for the band’s songcraft and improvisational impulses to flourish.

K.G., in particular, has a natural fluidity that belies its piecemeal construction, and a steady rhythmic thrust that mirrors the urgency of its scorched-Earth lyrics. As the album unfolds, each song appears like a new scene on some never-ending dystopian Disney boat ride through the gravest threats to our civilization: unchecked AI (“Automation”), radicalized right-wing trolls (“Minimum Brain Size”), the untenability of modern capitalism (“Straws in the Wind”), pandemic-stoked xenophobia (“Some of Us”).

On this opening stretch, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard reaffirm their status as the house band for post-Trump geopolitical tumult, but in lieu of conceptual suites about barfing robots and intergalactic colonization, K.G. feels much more grounded, even personal. The album’s vigorous peak-hour standouts, “Ontology” and “Oddlife,” each ponder the meaning of life from opposing macro and micro angles. Where the former translates its big unknowable queries (“Why is there anyone?/Why do we think?/What is the point of it?/Why anything?”) into an existential crisis you can dance to, the latter is an unglamorous look at the physically grueling, mentally exhausting experience of touring: “No concept of geography,” bandleader Stu Mackenzie sings, “I wake up and I’m still fatigued/I’m drinking till I’m dead asleep.”

But if “Oddlife” seems at odds with the rest of the album’s topicality (not to mention somewhat ill-timed for a moment when many groups would kill to feel burned out by touring again), it ultimately speaks to a universal conundrum: the fact that we’re often left too drained by our working lives to fight bigger battles. And as “The Hungry Wolf of Fate” closes out K.G. in a fuzz-metal firestorm, we’re reminded that a failure to break our complacency and heed the warnings of history will have disastrous consequences for us all. “We’re mindless pissants” who “haven’t learned sense,” Mackenzie seethes, suggesting that not only is our demise all but assured, but well-deserved.

So after you’ve consigned the fate of humanity to the dustbin, what’s there left to do? Well, if the opening of L.W. is any indication, there’s still time for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard to cross “form the world’s weirdest Steely Dan tribute act” off their bucket list. L.W.’s lead-off track, “If Not Now, Then When?” snaps into a crisp, clavinet-spun Aja groove while Mackenzie shows that Kevin Parker isn’t the only Aussie psych-rocker concealing a killer falsetto. The ruinous imagery remains—rising oceans, raging wildfires, endangered species—but the surprisingly sleek execution betrays their deft touch at repackaging the same messages.

As that sudden change of direction indicates, L.W. is more of a grab bag, and a feeling of diminishing returns creeps in as tracks like “O.N.E.” circle around the same musical and ideological territory. In effect, L.W. resembles K.G. after three additional months of lockdown: It’s more antsy, more angry, and less concerned about letting its gut hang out, allowing the motorik acid-folk of “Static Electricity” to gallop toward the six-minute mark in a blaze of microtonal shredding. But if the songs are looser, the targets are more precise. Keyboardist Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s “Supreme Ascendancy” is a scathing attack on the Catholic Church’s history of sexual-abuse cover-ups; “East West Link,” meanwhile, protests the namesake freeway plan that’s become a political lightning rod in Melbourne, resulting in the most exciting song about an urban-planning proposal you’re liable to hear all year.

But as much their social conscience and worldly observations have become central to their identity, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard still have the feel of a secret society—and the closing eight-minute version of “K.G.L.W.” is its national anthem, a sludge-metal mantra that repeats the band’s initials as if casting an ancient spell to awaken some long-dormant mythical beast. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s rabid fanbase has been casually referred to as a cult on many occasions; consider this song—and K.G./L.W. as a whole—the official indoctrination ceremony.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - K.G. & L.W. Music Album Reviews King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - K.G. & L.W. Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 Rating: 5

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