It was less than four months ago that King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard released their 17th album – yes, you did read that correctly – ‘L.W.’. Once surprising fans with motorik metal (2017’s ‘Murder Of The Universe’), bossa nova jazz (2015’s ‘Paper Mâché Dream Balloon’) and never-ending sci-fi ragers (‘Nonagon Infinity’), the masters of reinvention fell foul to familiarity. Though it would be an achievement for most musicians, for King Gizzard, ‘L.W.’ felt lazy. They were beginning to shroud their output behind a messy wall of sound crammed with every effect and instrument they could lay their hands on and, ultimately, the approach reached its peak.
Before it could crash down around them, the Aussie garage-psych rockers have taken a step back. After an uneasy 18 months, the last thing the world needs is another dark, hard-hitting frenzied outlook on life. Instead, album number 18 ‘Butterfly 3000’ is a venture into upbeat simplicity. It’s not an easy first listen, but taunts you through with the promise of something new. Chugging electo-pop opener ‘Yours’ plods between moments of fun with wiry looping synth sequences juxtaposed against the guitar’s twanging licks. It has has a natural playfulness, oozing a sense of freedom as the group step away from their rock roots.
This runs throughout with your invite to the psych-party of the summer coming with dance-pop banger ‘Interior People’. Alongside its sun-kissed strums, a barrage of non-stop motorik percussion lifts the song to new heights and keep the bar raised through to similarly catchy foot-stomper ‘Catching Smoke’.
As carefree as the record is, though, the reliance on looped synth melodies becomes a hindrance. ‘Blue Morpho’ suffers from near-incomprehensible vocals and a predictable return to the spindly melody post-breakdown. Despite this, ‘Dreams’ is reflective and yearning, returning to the band’s favoured theme of escapism: “I only wanna wake up in my dreams / I only feel alive in a daze”
It may be set apart from the rest of the Gizzverse repertoire, but ‘Butterfly 3000’ sounds familiar nonetheless. Given that they’re self-confessed music-geeks, it’s no surprise that King Gizzard have considered every element right down to the mid-phrase time changes (‘Blue Morpho’) and dub-trance experimentation (‘2.02 Killer Year’). But this formulaic approach lacks surprise – once you’re a few tracks in, you’ve heard it all. It might not be a total hot Gizz summer, but at least we’ve got a few extra bangers to bask in.
Release date: June 11
Record label: KGLW