3 out of 5
Produced by: Stu Mackenzie
Arriving musically intact, King Gizzard’s 2019 attempt at a blues and boogie album is maybe function over form quite often, but that ends up meaning we get the group’s psych identity peeking through enough to give it a unique flavor, while also maintaining an undeniable catchy, poppy momentum – mostly on the boogie side. But if the repeated use of exactly that term – ‘boogie’ – in a lot of the song titles is any indication, this is also pretty empty-headed stuff, with some lyrics vomit-inducingly dumb (go ahead, name a track ‘The Cruel Millenial’ and try not to have a large chunk of your audience roll their eyes) and a large lot of the rest lyric book-space filling high school poetry paens to nature (“To a bird, what’s a plane?” oof).
At the same time, the irrepressibly catchy bop of these compositions may be meant to purposefully align with some of that silliness, but it works better when the songs are a bit more chill, such as the laid-back folk touches of the opening title track, which makes its questioning on the cruelty of fishing more akin to lazy Summer wandering than attempted conversation starters.
This track also suggests that we’d welcome K.G. back into the fold of not trying to label their music before composing it: Real’s Not Real is all proggy psych with blues splashes, and that track, lyrically and musically, stands with some of the group’s betters. Similarly, when they sort of ditch the shtick and go for an electro sound on Acarine, it’s a standout, with closer Cyboogie showing how all of this could’ve combined for a weird, techno boogie-rock thing. (I mean, I’m glad we didn’t get an album of that, either, but it’s an interesting one-off.)
But throughout these ups and downs, even when crafting faux-something or other tracks that miss the mark, the core song construction and riffage is there; no track is boring, but it’s definitely a very lightweight album, and probably more of an occasional listen than many of K.G.’s discs.