As avid readers of the Best Music Section On Earth TM might already be aware, The Gizz made a legendary attempt to stick five albums out last year (the fourth of which, Polygondwanaland, was reviewed herein). We awaited with baited breath to see whether Stu & Co would deliver their fifth - as the new year approached, hope dimmed to despair. But our momentary lapse of faith was misplaced, as the band completed a hail-mary album release. “g’day [sic],” proclaimed The Gizz on December 30th, “our new album Gumboot soup [sic] is coming out tomorrow.”
The album gets a lot of things right. First and foremost, a shoutout to the rhythm section that kept a tight groove pinned down throughout the 44 minute runtime; it sounds like they were balancing on a knife-edge. On top, there are splats of synths and nifty little flute bits sprinkled around all over the place, welcome additions to slower tracks that would have missed the enriching.
This album also suggests a technicality that wasn’t present in earlier Gizz works. The intonation is more delicate. The rhythms are more precise. The compositions are more layered, the band is tighter, and the effort, overall, comes off as much more mature. This album drives home, without a doubt, that King Gizz hasn’t squandered its marathon recording effort this year, even if bits fell flat. The band is better off for having done it.
And yet, there’s a problem with this album, one that shows up on some tracks more than others. It’s like flat beer - there’s nothing wrong with the taste, but it doesn’t feel right. As technically good as the band feels (with respect to their previous work), the songs have lost their mojo, like Austin Powers in that one Austin Powers movie. There’s no hectic sense of fun like on Nonagon, nor is there the tongue-in-cheek jokery that made Paper Mache Dream Balloon such a pleasure.
This leaves us in an unfortunate position. The band is writing some of their best material, but at the same time have lost the vital spark that made them so good in the first place. They’ve traded the irreverent energy for cold technicality, and that makes it kind of hard to jump on the hype train for this LP. Are they tired? Have they phoned it in? Is this legitimately their best effort?
To rehash a point that ran in a previous edition of Your Favorite University Newspaper ©, these guys need some time off. It’s summer in Australia - they should hit the beach, put their feet in the sand, and forget about recording for six months. Maybe Buckethead can keep up this frenzied pace; nobody else can. And their fatigue shows. To me, King Gizz always sounded like B52s on crack. This album sounded like CHON with a hangover.
Artist: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. Label: Flightless. Top Tracks: Beginners Luck; The Great Chain of Being; All is Known. For Fans Of: Pond, Ty Segall. 44 minutes