King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Gumboot Soup
Album number 13 for Melbourne psych heroes King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard came in the dying moments of 2017, bringing their grand total of albums released in that year to five. An admirable, astonishing feat, but one that’s no longer surprising, given what we know about how this band operates.
The band’s Stu Mackenzie admitted the band were more focused on the individual songs on Gumboot Soup, rather than sticking with a musical theme; something the band have been startlingly good at since their first release half a decade ago.
This scattergun approach is evident right from the outset, as the album’s first three tracks all shoot off in different directions.
‘Beginners Luck’ is a loose, rambling 70s folk throwback, ‘Greenhouse Heat Death’ is a hypnotic choogle fest and ‘Barefoot Desert’ is the kind of jazz-pop that will have Steely Dan fans feeling much better about the future of music.
This continues throughout, and fans probably won’t find it too much of a struggle to place exactly where each song would have slotted in among King Gizzard’s catalogue.
Some of their experiments work better than others – the spacey, vocoder-heavy ‘Superposition’ is more style than substance, for instance – but there’s nothing here unworthy.
The frighteningly heavy ‘The Great Chain Of Being’ is genuinely affecting, the stoned groove of ‘I’m Sleepin’ In’ is so alluring that we can forgive the lack of lyrical profundity, and the taut ‘All Is Known’, the best song on the album, is the perfect distillation of the band’s indulgent tendencies and pop smarts.
The most fascinating thing about King Gizzard’s recent creative flurry is not the pace at which they work, but the strike rate when it comes to quality. The law of averages states that increased output puts the band at an increased risk of release subpar material; but somehow they’re maintaining the quality and making it seem easy.
The ideas on Gumboot Soup are too good to be relegated to the dusty shelf of half-baked, unfinished songs, so we’re glad they’ve been given life. This is not King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s best record, but it’s another solid addition to their enviable catalogue.
Hear a showcase of King Gizzard & the Lizard WIzard's Gumboot Soup from 2pm (AEDT) Wednesday 17 January on Double J.