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Published on June 4th, 2019 | by voxx

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizzard – Fishing For Fishies

The ever-exploratory Melbourne rock septet’s kaleidoscopic 14th album…

Paradoxically, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s name is one of the least eccentric things about them these days. A case in point: in 2017 the Antipodean rock outfit released not one, not two, but five albums. In terms of quality control this deluge was perhaps ill-advised, but the string of markedly different records revealed a band pathologically driven to assimilate as many genres into their core sound as possible. From bizarro prog to jazz and beyond, they have zigged, zagged, sashayed and pirouetted between different styles so many times now as to be virtually unrecognisable from the band whose 2012 debut, 12 Bar Bruise, spliced lo-fi garage and psychedelic rock.

Thirteen albums later, Fishing For Fishies could perhaps be considered business as unusual in this regard, yet it’s riddled with enough unexpected twists and idiosyncrasies to mesmerise. This time around, the Gizz’s experiments have resulted in a compelling macramé of blues, rock, electronica, country and more besides. Both ‘Boogieman Sam’ and ‘Plastic Boogie’ marry funky grooves with liberal use of harmonica, while the pulsing ‘Cyboogie’ gleefully overdoses on synths and vocoder. Though their urge to boogie is pronounced, that’s not to say they have entirely forsaken their roots. ‘Real’s Not Real’, for one, swings pendulum-like between a ragged guitar riff and a psychedelic pop haze. Throughout nine tracks, their ability to bring everything together harmoniously is impressive.

It would be easy to assume King Gizzard’s vivid lyrical content is always a zany afterthought, yet there is more to this side of them than is often credited. What they lack in poetic eloquence, they make up for with the preposterous originality of their themes. The countrified title track grapples with the ethics of fishing, with multi-instrumentalist Stu Mackenzie delivering an absurdist ecological sermon via lines like, “You ain’t God, don’t hunt salmon, carp or cod.” Even more arresting is ‘Acarine’. Finally, a song about the plight of honeybee populations! In detailing the protracted suffering of a bee with an endo-parasitic mite “buried deep” in its body, it is essentially a National Geographic article scored by ominous synths. That is, of course, before it erupts into an electro gallop seemingly beamed straight from the mind of Giorgio Moroder.

Some may find such restless eclecticism alienating, if not outright combative. It’s true, King Gizzard rarely sound like the same band for more than one song at a time, let alone a whole album, but it’s for that very same reason that they rarely sound like anyone else either. That is something to be applauded.

- By Jake White


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