Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, an easy contender for best-named band around, return with their tenth album, and second in 2017, Murder of the Universe. This time, they’ve assembled an insane psych-rock opera split into three chapters, full of tales of beasts, magicians, monsters and a vomiting cyborg.
The results, however, are a bit of a mixed bag. While Murder of the Universe, like every King Gizz album, is very inventive and brings with it an extravagantly imagined concept, the rate at which this prolific band is putting out records has started to betray a distinct formula behind their sound.
Just as on those previous records, we have here lots of motorik Krautrock drums and spitting drumfills, warbly vocals matched to the melody of the lead guitar, and roving basslines. Almost every song features the same ‘HOOOOOOOOO’ ad-lib, and certain lyrics and melodies even repeat themselves across multiple tracks.
Some of this is as a result of the album’s three-part structure, with the first ‘chapter’ being essentially one long twenty minute song split into nine tracks. But at other moments the repetition feels much less deliberate, and more like the work of a band who are plugging away at the same ideas they’ve already explored.
It’s a shame, because the production and the sheer amount of ambition on show with Murder of the Universe set King Gizzard apart from the crowd. The spoken word poetry cut into most of the tracks on this album is fun and certainly unique, even if the delivery and rhythm is a bit flat and predictable.
But the concepts behind the bands last handful of records (one loops the end to the beginning, one uses microtonal tuning, one has four songs of exactly equal length) begin to feel like superficial creativity when the core sound at their centre isn’t changing.
And while that sound might be exciting and immaculately produced, I can’t help but feel on Murder of the Universe that I’m taking the same roller coaster ride I’ve taken twenty times before, and am beginning to see through its manufactured peaks and troughs to the familiar and predictable scaffolding beneath.