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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - L​.​W. CD (album) cover

L​.​W.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.53 | 69 ratings

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dougmcauliffe
4 stars L.W. follows up last years release of K.G. which continued the bands exploration into the middle eastern shaded psychedelic rock they started on Flying Microtonal Banana, which happens to be my favorite album by the band. I really enjoyed K.G. last year, to me it felt like maybe their most collaborative sounding album to date bringing a little bit of all their past styles together under the umbrella of microtonal instrumentation. I rated it 4 stars back then and i'd say I still hold it right around that 3.5-4 star range. To me it was a very solid record with a lot of good groove, but for some reason it just didn't have the same shelf life as some of their other records did for me. Now we have L.W. which seems to be the conclusion to this style, these two albums really go hand in hand with the closing track off K.G. flowing right into the opening track here with "If Not Now, Then When?"

Now it's important to mention K.G. came under fire from some fans and critics of the band for sounding like the band was treading water and repeating themselves. Personally though, I just thought musically start to finish the album was really solid and at the end of the day, I had a lot of fun with it. I don't think such complaints are unfounded, as when I listen to a song like Some of Us or Straws in the Wind, it sounds comfortably King Gizzard to me, but this certainly wasn't something I felt across the whole record. Personally I always judge an album on its own merits, if I like the songs, than we're chillin! Now the reason I bring all of this up is because this record is coming under even more fire from some camps for apparently being a worse offender than the last one and i'm seeing a lot of people completely write it off for this reason. However... I don't know.... I just think this album is pretty... awesome honestly! After several listens I absolutely prefer this one to K.G. and I think this delivers on the same level as many of the high points of K.G. but on a very consistent basis between its 9 songs. The tracks all jive really well together for me and it makes a really groovy, fun and relatively easy listen. This record falls heavily into their psychedelic rock camp, while still carrying some of the odd times and unconventional riffage they've picked up over time. I love the production value here and all the super psychedelic ear candy sounds scattered throughout the songs. Listening through, I just feel like I've delved into a big dusty cloud of psychedelia and I love it.

Getting into the songs now, opening up is the aforementioned "If Not Now, Then When?" It opens with somewhat of an abrasive transition from The Hungry Wolf of Fate, K.G.'s closer. But it all fizzles out as this real crunchy clavinet comes in. When the rhythm section fires off it's a super groovy and satisfying payoff that I just have to move to while listening. Lot's of great melodies throughout, just a super solid opener and a pretty unique one for the band at that. Following that is O.N.E which reminds me of Automation off the last album because I feel they both serve a similar purpose, and that being getting the ball rolling and getting some momentum kicked off for the next suite of songs. This one opens with a bit of a hypnotic and floaty start, before kicking into that very driving rhythm section. Lot's of stuff to grab onto within this song with a cool little guitar breakdown in the middle. "Pleura," follows this up and this has a real headbanging riff to it, you kinda have to headbang in a weird rhythmic pattern though but it works. This ones got a pretty frantic feel to it, towards the middle it settles down a little into a slightly toned down sounding spin on the verse before calming completely down right before we hear a good ol' "woooOOOO" bringing us right back into that main riff coming through at full power. Awesome, high energy song. Supreme Ascendancy is where the album actually steps thing up a little bit for me, and I really feel it keeps the bar at this high level for the remainder of its runtime. It's got this super upbeat psychedelic Anatolian rock instrumentation opening things up, i'm actually having a little trouble describing it but for what that's worth, I think that's the mark of something pretty cool! Just a great vibe to this one, the instrumentals here are some of their most textured if you ask me with some nice organ coming through to accompany the main hook. The following track Static Electricity is easily one of the best songs, arguably the best for my money. It opens with this super menacing guitar riff backed by a real brooding electronic soundscape. The vocals got this ghosty tone to it while in the rhythm department I really feel the now singular drummer has really stepped things up and distinguished himself as a very key member of the band now that the two drummer dynamic is no more. Everything about this song just touches all the bases for me, I love the super earthy sounding passage at the 3:00 mark, the song reaches a sweet crescendo and playout towards the end, great stuff.

East West Link follows that awesome track up and keeps the album moving carrying a similar drive to Static Electricity. We see more nice subtle rhythmic choices with some bongos? Hell yeah! There's a really cool instrumental section around the halfway mark. On it's own, this is a song I have a little less to say about, but it fits like a glove in the context of a full album listen. The following track "Ataraxia," is another highlight and contender for the best song. The riffage in this song is tied for the best on the album for me, more on that later! When the full band comes in the main riff is just absolutely filthy and once again, I think a lot of credit for this can be placed on the drumming. When it suddenly moves right into the verse like a light switch, it's just so satisfying, pardon me for sounding like a broken record here but once again, the stars of the show here are the drums and bass seamlessly playing around the riffs and vocal melodies. I just cant rave about this track enough, a real mastery of rises and falls, build ups and payoffs. Now in the final stretch, "See Me" comes through next taking you through a dusty maze of music. It has a pretty bouncy feel to it with more of those uhhh... hard to describe psychedelic chiming instrumentals taking the lead. I'll group this one with East West Link as being less of a track you'll just throw on out of context, but in a full album listen, this is a nice bridge between two of the goliath songs. That brings me into the closing track, the familiarly titled "K.G.L.W" which ties these two albums all together. This song, clocking in at over 8 minutes King Gizzard pulls through with in my opinion, one of their best songs ever. Combing elements of Prog Metal, Doom/Stoner Metal and Pysch Rock, it's like a fever dream for me. I'd have to argue it's much more successful and original on all fronts than K.G.'s closer "The Hungry Wolf of Fate." The riffs are so crunchy throughout and these eight minutes and change just melt away as King Gizzard takes you on a hellish tour through evil L.W. land or.... something? One thing I really like about this song is that there's very little downtime and they come at you basically right out the gate with an aggression. At 2:07 it drops into this awesome rhythmic riff and I think the fact that it comes out of a stretch of 7/4 into this 4/4 section makes it a very enjoyable and hard hitting transition. Some of the more doomy elements follow with larger than life walls of muddy distortion followed by some sweet slow and fiery riffage. The band has proved to be more than competent at this style, and I'd love to see them embrace it more on a full album basis, even the fact that you could classify parts of this song as Progressive Metal makes me very excited. The prospect of King Gizzard tackling that style.... oh man.

So yeah, I just really love this record and I really can't really get behind some of the flak getting thrown its way. There's been times in the past where I feel like the band has missed the mark or undelivered a little bit, but that's just not the case for this album. Every song hits the mark, I have a ton of fun listening to this record on repeat and I think it stands sturdy and comfortably against some of their other really good albums! Thanks for reading, giving this one 4.5 stars. Am I going against the grain here? If so, that's okay, this bands got something for everyone in my opinion and I'm just happy that they're one of the premier modern rock bands and I get to be a fan during their reign! Cheers!

A solid 4 stars!

dougmcauliffe | 4/5 |

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