On Fishies, the Gizz take a deep dive into their prog rock urges
Artist: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
Album: Fishing for Fishies
Label: Flightless Records
★★★ (3/5 stars)
Prolific is a definite understatement when it comes to King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. Since 2010, the Australian septet has released 14 albums. Two albums a year is de rigueur, and in 2017 they released five albums. This year—at least so far—there is Fishing for Fishies,The Gizz’s most cohesive and coherent album yet.
Previous albums have been either one long, aimless jam, or too many disconnected ideas trying to fit in the same space. There are referential moments to instantly identifiable classic rock and soul songs at the start of most of the songs on Fishing for Fishies. Take the title track for example, which opens the album with the rapid party drums of Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz,” or “Real’s Not Real,” which could, for a split second, be mistaken for the Beatles’ “Revolution.” The former retains the shuffling drums, but the melody that sits on top has is ethereal, more Charlotte Gainsbourg than anything else. The latter starts aggressive, but drops into some Partridge Family trip.
At least the Gizz’s pillaging is of quality material. They farm Steely Dan’s dreamy, light and breezy vibes on “The Bird Song” and The Knack on “This Thing,” which twists into an irresistible swinging boogie. Boogie is the key term both in style for this album and in the title of many songs. “Boogieman Sam,” an amalgamation of TRex’s “Telegram Sam” and Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.” “Plastic Boogie” that starts like Stevie Wonder’s superstition but morphs into a musical theatre number with multiple voices. Album closer “Cyboogie” channels some Daft Punk onto its cosmic cyberdisco dancefloor.
More than anything, it is ZZ Top’s rock ‘n’ blues + boogie that informs all of Fishing for Fishies, most notably on “The Cruel Millennial” (sung by keyboardist Ambrose Kenny-Smith) and “Acarine.” This song takes quite a bit from Alan Parsons Project’s experimental prog rock before breaking down into some heady techno with a film synth feel akin to They Live-era John Carpenter. With Kenny-Smith’s harmonica vying for center stage, The Gizz’s psych-rock definitely has taken a trip down South.
Ever the fans of concepts and themes, Fishing for Fishies is no different with The Gizz turning the focus on the conflict between humans and nature. These messages are reignited with the varying time signatures in each song. Even with all the weighty issues and experimental instrumentation, there is a childlike simplicity and appeal that underscores Fishing for Fishies, making it a straight up pleasurable listen.