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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard explore even more microtones on ‘K.G.’

    By Brandon Carson King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is an Australian band who seems to make whatever they put their minds to. Starting in the early 2010s, the band has come from a cult following to being known globally. In 2019, King Gizzard toured the world with their acclaimed 14th record Fishing for Fishies and 15th Infest the Rats Nest. Although two completely different albums in style, these records propelled the band forward. 2020 was going to be another big year for King Gizz with multiple three-hour shows planned in Los Angeles, and Red Rocks in Colorado. But then COVID-19 disrupted life on Earth. However, COVID-19 didn’t stop King Gizzard from being the hardest working band going into a new decade.  K.G. is their 16th studio album, and another exploration into microtonal music. Microtones are smaller than a semi-tone (notes between notes) and features notes outside of traditional Western scales. 2017s Flying Microtonal Banana was the first record they made featuring microtones. But K.G. is a whole other beast. K.G. is yet another experiment for the band, as they add in more synths and guitar layers since FMB. The lyrics are a great representation of the general feeling 2020 has brought. But unfortunately, some songs don’t pack the same punch as the rest, making for a few unmemorable cuts.

Welcome back, microtones!

FMB was a fantastic introduction of microtones into the Gizzverse. King Gizzard brought an explosive record of groovy desert jams like “Rattlesnake” and “Open Water” along with experimentation like “Anoxia” and “Sleep Drifter” not found anywhere else in their discography. In a way, K.G. pushes even more boundaries to their microtonal sound. “Automation” fuses the ferocious aggression of Rat’s Nest with their microtonal sound. The bass leads the entire track, making the song feel like the end times are near. “Intrasport” is the most controversial track on the album. Guitarist, Joey Walker, wrote the track, giving it a danceable, disco-tech feel. Unlike anything King Gizzard has done before, the song is easily the best on the album. “Ontology” is yet another danceable groove song, but not in the same way as “Intrasport.” The drums keep the energy up while everyone in the band plays off each other well. The microtones allow the band to have an almost middle eastern sound, but it fits incredibly well with their psych-rock style. “Honey” is the light in the dark on K.G., allowing for a change of pace with a sweet, acoustic ballad Gizzard style. Sometimes, however, the songs can get repetitive and sound as if one’s heard it before. This is mostly because they have another microtonal album, and they can both sound similar at times.

Stand-out lyrics

Across all 16 albums, it’s clear that King Gizzard’s strong suit is not lyrics, which is completely fine, due to their musicianship and ability to craft an amazing song without great lyrics. Since Fishies and Rat’s Nest, however, their lyrics have gotten increasingly better, and K.G. is yet another example. Most of them have similar themes: doomsday, end times, questioning life, and how we came to existence. These are familiar themes, but the music surrounding them elevates the lyrics to a whole new level for King Gizzard.
“Rigor mortis, fossil tortoise/Remains dormant underneath everything/Ageless microbes reveal xenophobes/Endless plague thus infecting everything,”
frontman Stu Mackenzie sings. On “Oddlife,” Mackenzie sings about the difficulties of the touring life as a musician,
“Back to the bus for another round/Managing feats by managing feet/Head of the hydra tastes the breeze/Conduit sees from the living room suite/Boredom is what boredom breeds, you see.”
K.G. is full of interesting, yet catchy lyrics on every song. Even “The Hungry Wolf of Fate” is elevated from the lyrics. The song is already one big Black Sabbath worship, but lyrics like,
“Death looms like a leering figure/Bring our species into sight,”
brings even more dark tones. K.G. itself is one of their darkest albums, and the lyrics put it into perspective.

Forgettable songs

There are a few tracks here that may get forgotten over time. “Straws in the Wind” has high potential with even more fantastic, foreboding lyrics. But the song itself takes way too long to end and drags on. “Some of Us” is also average, even for King Gizzard. In the beginning, the guitar is produced in an off-putting way that sounds a little harsh on the ears. But when the song gets going (3:23), it gets going! Even though it’s at the end of the song.

Top tracks:

Intrasport Ontology The Hungry Wolf of Fate

Recommended if you like:

The Murlocs Courtney Barnett Thee Oh Sees

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