Tamika Reviews King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s “Fishing for Fishies”

Tamika Reviews King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s “Fishing for Fishies”

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Quirky Aussie psych-rock group King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are famously one of the hardest working and most prolific generators of new material in music today. Their latest output, “Fishing for Fishies,” is their fourteenth since 2012.  How does this newest album hold up in comparison to the rest of King Gizzard’s massive discography? RPM’s Tamika takes a dive with the fishies.

 

Fishing for Fishies is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s first LP since achieving the impressive feat of releasing five critically acclaimed albums during 2017. Any band recording that much material in such a short time span as has earned the privilege to take a break from their previous work and reset, which King Gizz did--for all of sixteen months. What would be a normal turnover rate for most artists feels like an epoch for KGLW, but nevertheless, they’ve earned it.

 

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We open with the light and breezy title track “Fishing for Fishies”, a cheeky tune about a fisherman who feels genuine remorse for all the fish who suffer due to his profession. Stu Mackenzie and Ambrose Kenny-Smith vocals blend beautifully with the individual plucks of the guitar and drum brushes. The softness of this song melts as away as we conclude with some heavy harmonica runs--more on the usage of this instrument throughout the album in a moment--and it’s all accompanied with a childlike, cartoonish video that sets the visual tone for the album.

 

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Fishing For Fishies (Official Video)

“Boogieman Sam” plays as a more straightforward blues jam though there is still some neat instrumentation with beautiful harp transitions between the verses and the inclusion of a mellotron solo (only time this instrument is on the album). Then that harmonica comes crashing in during said solo, leaving the listener sensing a theme coming.

“The Bird Song” offers a departure from the blues sound we have gotten used to and instead uses the keyboards and bass to create a driving groove. We see the band ponder more about some things in nature, and how they might be feeling.

To a bird, what’s a plane? / A shiny flying elephant

To a tree, what’s a house? / Is that even relevant?

Does a bird know its name? / To a bird, what’s a plane?

Lyrically, the band takes a turn away from the minds of fish and birds and starts to place direct accountability in the hands of humans. “Plastic Boogie” is rally cry against the over-use of wasteful plastics. “The Cruel Millennial” is a polarizing track as it can be interpreted as either a direct jab at millennials or a criticism of the jabs millennial culture is constantly subject to. “Real’s Not Real” takes a broader approach in critiquing the current state of the world and the lack of reform taking place to improve it. These are all important subject matter, and I applaud King Gizzard’s willingness to face politics head-on, but guess which instrument is included and similarly played in all these songs? That’s right: the harmonica.

Look, you can tell I’m not the biggest fan of harmonica, or at least the way it’s used on this record. But if it’s the kind of thing you like, you’re in luck, because there’s plenty of it. We do get a nice reprieve though near the end of the album. “Acarine” has a similar vibe to the rest of the record but has a Tron-inspired outro that helps separate it from the pack. The album’s closer, “Cyboogie” follows a similar digital/robotic style with Mackenzie’s vocals going through a vocoder.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Cyboogie (Official Video)

When looking at an album it is interesting to see how we go from the breeziness of the opening track, to the blues sound in the bulk of the album, to the futuristic elements of the last two tracks. While Fishing for Fishies does rely very heavily on the harmonica motif, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard have shown they can make extremely varied music in a short amount time--which means the overall sound can come as a shock for fans. At the same time, King Gizz fans have been taught to expect the unexpected.

 

 

As I mentioned before, King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard worked incredibly hard in 2017, and it is totally understandable for them to move away from the weird and loud psychedelic material that we are accustomed to. In addition, with this being the band’s 14th release there is bound to be some material that will not strike a chord with all listeners. Fishing for Fishies features some gems (my personal highlights are the title track, “The Bird Song”, and “Cyboogie”) that do remind you the experimental spirit of King Gizzard continues to live on. As they move further away from the 2017 mega era, my hope is to see that spirit thrive as they get more comfortable dissecting other genres.

Score: background soundtrack for a space cowboy saloon.

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