King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have released a new album. That already sounds like a tired statement; any article written about one of their new releases over the last few years can seem almost instantly stale. To be fair, most of their albums have at the very least has been good and a lot have been really great, but at the rate that King Gizzard releases their studio work, they don’t afford the listener much time to compress the music already out there. Since 2010, the group has released 16 studio albums and a handful of EPs and live albums, too many of which have been either written off as novelty genre forays or forgotten amongst their peers.
K.G. is the first solo release since the thrash influenced Infest the Rat’s Nest, from last August. That’s an eternity in King Gizzard time, and while the band has kept busy releasing some live albums, K.G. still feels rejuvenating. Part of that longer gestation may be due to the departure of percussionist Eric Moore. An integral member of the group, Moore left the band to focus on his Melbourne based label Flightless, earlier this year. While King Gizzard has no shortage of talented musicians who can pick up the slack, after developing such a dynamic recording process amongst the members, it’s not surprising their follow-up took a little more planning.
That extra time may have been the right move though. K.G. has earned its self-title, comprising not a single overarching schema like many King Gizzard’s records but instead, a more nuanced collection of the varying styles that the group has attempted over the years. It’s the band sounding the most like itself, and even as a spiritual sequel to 2017’s Flying Microtonal Banana, it transcends its role as just another experiment. Whether it’s “Straws in the Wind” where Ambrose Kenny Smith’s vocals sound a lot like a Cat Power feature or the psychedelic shuffle of “Honey” the band isn’t limited to their Saharan influences and microtonal experiments the same way they were on Banana.
K.G. may also serve as a critical catalyst as well. Unlike previous years when more than one King Gizzard record had to vie for the end of the year superlatives, it seems unlikely they’ll release another record before January. That, along with K.G.’s quality and the return to a more classic King Gizzard sound, help K.G. stand out as more than just another entry into a dense discography.