Sleeping giants can’t rest forever, right? Wrong. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are a year and a half removed from releasing five albums over the span of a single year, but after taking a break in 2018, King Gizzard could not contain themselves any longer. Unfortunately for this prolific septet of psychedelic weirdos, their latest LP Fishing For Fishies suggests they should have dedicated a bit more time toward slumbering, or at the very least—fleshing out a record far more interesting than this.
There are very few bands as interesting as King Gizzard—they churn out music at an unparalleled pace, and overflow with charming, carefree energy that makes them so easy to love. Though they deliver new music in swathes, the Aussies’ sound usually frenzies out of control and into various, dated genres and styles of rock that are given a slightly bizarre facelift. While one can appreciate King Gizzard’s willingness to “experiment,” their recent output— beginning with 2017’s Sketches of Brunswick East—has left much to be desired, and Fishing For Fishies fails to change this narrative.
A futuristic voyage through swampy terrains and a very particular (and short-lived) moment in rock-and-roll history - boogie rock - Fishing For Fishies is at its best moments a cyber-blues blast. Sadly though, the album possesses a few moments of King Gizzard’s zany flair. Most passages here are a downright bore, which ultimately sinks the record into banal, boring depths of blues-rock pastiche, made only slightly interesting through sci-fi throbs of synth.
Fishing For Fishies is not a completely lost cause. In truth, the album’s title track is probably one of the band’s most heartwarming songs ever. With spunky guitar riffs bubbling to the surface and a rhythmic current of clanging drums knocking about below, ‘Fishing for Fishies’ is an aquatic gem, cut and polished by an anti-fishing sentiment that could easily come across as cheesy (“Don't make them feel happy/ Or me neither/ I feel so sorry for fishies”) but feels wholesome instead.
‘Cyboogie,’ the first single released from the new record, is a seven-minute, digitized expedition through the cosmos that’ll remind many of the equally repetitive yet magnetic ‘Rattlesnake’ from their 2017 record Flying Microtonal Banana. The incessant refrain of “cyboogie” was grating and even unbearable at first, but eventually, there was no escaping the boogie.
Then there’s the southern-sheathed ‘Boogieman Sam’, easily the best cut from the entire record and is—as I stated in my Track Of The Day review of the song—the “King of all boogies.” With a peachy guitar riff, a grooving bassline, and the crackling screams of harmonica, the bluesy ‘Boogieman Sam’ still manages to brandish King Gizzard’s psych-rock touch. Unfortunately, the record’s infectious boogie diminishes from here on out.
Ridding their nostrils of all the wonderful gunk that made the septet so special and eccentric in the first place, the rest of Fishing For Fishies will leave listeners fumbling through uninspired fragments, mere reflections of the aforementioned singles - except maybe ‘Acarine’.
Unlike any other release prior—aside from Sketches — Fishing For Fishies is King Gizzard’s most fluid record to date, but clean-cut and uniform does not wear well on the Australian outfit. Similar to Sketches, King Gizzard boxes itself in and resorts to a slew of bland platitudes of whatever genre they are feeling at the moment, but the variations of swampy blues-rock found here never really land.
While calling Fishing For Fishies stale at first may be a bit harsh, it becomes pronounced once you consider the adventurous image King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard has carved out for itself over the last five years. With this passive listening experience, rarely was I ever intrigued by the band’s songwriting, which (taking off my rose-colored King Gizzard Stan glasses) was never really striking or profound to begin with.
King Gizzard has not released a dynamic album that parallels their electric nature since Murder of The Universe, and now some worry has bubbled to the surface. Has the band lost its audaciously wacky touch? Possibly, but with the random release of their new single ‘Planet B’ just a couple of weeks ago, the possibility of them going complete thrash metal would be a more than welcomed decision and an exhilarating rabbit hole to fall into. Let’s hope it’s coming soon down the line for the weird and wonderful King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.
THE 405 RATING: 6/10