by Lexi Anderson
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have made a name for themselves as the forward thinkers of the psychedelic genre. With a sound reminiscent of ‘60s experimental rock, K.G.L.W. have continually pushed the boundaries of convention, accumulating a huge cult following and garnering praise across genres. Now, with their latest album L.W., something has happened that is uncharacteristically unlike the band: they’ve stalled.
K.G.L.W. have built their brand on top of perpetual motion, constantly innovating their sound to the point where each album bears little to no resemblance to its predecessor. The Melbourne-based band has been so prolific and varied in its work that Wikipedia categorizes it under six genres, ranging from heavy metal to acid rock. Now, with the release of sister albums K.G. and L.W., they seem to be borrowing elements from their discography.
While L.W. exhibits solid writing and musicality using K.G.L.W.’s patented blend of punk, metal, and groovy psychedelics, the album as a whole seems to serve as a conglomeration of their previous works, a middle ground between the scattered genres of their earlier albums. The funk-driven opening track “If Not Now, Then When?” is reminiscent of their 2017 album, Flying Microtonal Banana, defined by a grooved-out bass line and steady vocals, whereas the seventh track “Ataraxia” is more akin to their past project Polygondwanaland, exhibiting less of a runaway melody than other songs on the album.
Despite inconsistencies in the album as a whole, however, L.W. still shows off the strong compositional skills K.G.L.W have shown over the last ten years. Individually, there are no weak links. Each song exhibits the thread of psychedelic experimentation that K.G.L.W. are characterized by, running in the background of hard rock, such as in the final track “K.G.L.W.,” or metal-esque vocals like in the third song, “Pleura.”
Regardless of genre, K.G.L.W.’s songs have always provided a visceral experience. The tracks on L.W. are no exception. Whether it’s “East West Link,” which gives one the feeling of looking into a kaleidoscope with its swirling melodies and softened vocals, “Ataraxia,” which sounds like the soundtrack to an old-school space adventure film, or “Supreme Ascendancy,” whose MGMT-like sound and repeating chorus of “you’re not above the law, no matter your beliefs” evokes the feeling of being at a ‘60s rock show, the complex musical layers of K.G.L.W. are so engaging that they’re borderline visual.
Though the compilation of L.W. doesn’t display the forward thinking expected of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, the individual tracks each stay true to the blended, groovy sound the band is known for. L.W. stands as a middle ground for K.G.L.W., a fusion of their previous works into a distinctly King Gizz album, a punk psych journey that leaves the listener wanting more.