A Menagerie of Smooth, Psychedelic Dreamscapes
Australian psychedelic rock band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard—best known for their bizarre name and incredible variation in style and influence—have continued their insane pace of album releases this year with Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms, and Lava; Laminated Denim; and Changes. All three albums are excellent and definitely lean towards the stronger end of their discography. While I do wish the band would return to fantasy-inspired metal (we may have peaked with Murder of the Universe and Infest the Rats’ Nest), I really enjoyed the last month of their musical output. Allow me to break down my thoughts on the respective albums for you.
Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms, and Lava is the most jazz-focused of the bunch, with an upbeat and aggressive pace throughout. It’s pretty varied thematically, touching on fungus, space, and iron lungs of all things. Speak of the devil, “Iron Lung” is the real winner here. It’s a massive, 10-minute epic with fantastic vocals and some amazing drum and piano work, not to mention the woodwind and brass interspersed throughout. Obviously, it’s not directly related to the music itself, but the song has one of the weirdest and most unique music videos I’ve seen in quite some time in the form of a sprawling collection of odd, psychedelic paintings. It’s worth checking out. It’s generally a solid album, and while it didn’t quite reach my expectations for it based on its wacky name, it was a good time.
Laminated Denim is the shortest of the bunch, only an EP. It’s soft and poppy with a distinctive rhythm. It’s short, containing only “The Land Before Timeland” and “Hypertension,” but upbeat and fun. I like it, but it’s the weakest of the bunch and lacks the feeling of experimentation the band’s music usually encapsulates. It probably could have fit into either Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms, and Lava, Laminated Denim, or Changes in terms of style and length, so its separation feels odd. Even so, it was a nice little addition between its larger brethren and still makes for an enjoyable listening experience.
Changes is the final album to have been released over the past few months and the most different to the band’s usual style. There are some elements of synth, lo-fi, and other approaches they don’t typically engage in. “Hate Dancin’” is my personal favorite on the album. It’s extremely poppy, catchy, and melodic. “Gondii” is a close second, blending the lighter elements of the album with the band’s more traditional fast-paced style for a nice light rock tone. I like Changes, but it does have a tendency to sort of blur into itself. Every song is very similar, and I feel like some variety would have gone a long way towards making the album stand out amongst their rapidly expanding discography.
Overall, these three are generally solid albums. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are pretty dedicated to their craft, and everything here has their distinct sense of style and quality. I do think that these are maybe a little generic in terms of their output, but still enjoyable. I would consider Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms, and Lava to be the strongest of the three, as tracks like “Iron Lung” stand out and there’s a distinct flavor throughout. Changes is sort of in the middle for me, as it’s pretty good and catchy but all sounds very similar and is a little at odds with the band’s usual stylings. Laminated Denim is probably the weakest for me personally as it’s very short but feels like it’s going on for too long, coupled with a lack of personality. Generally, though, I am impressed by King Gizzard’s output over the last month, and I’m excited to see what they do next.