Three down, two to go. This is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s third album this year. Yes, and it doesn’t lose one bit of traction. Though it diverges from their signature driving drumline garage psych-rock, King Giz’s most recent album is also their coolest. In the sense that it’s smooth.
The album was created with Alex Brettin, sole member of Mild High Club. Supposedly, he and King Giz frontman Stu Mackenzie collaborated for most of the album, sending each other iPhone voice memos of recordings, which they called sketches, hence, Sketches of Brunswick East. Brunswick East is the Melbourne suburb where the band has their studio space.
The album’s title may also be a reference to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain, or something.
But enough of that. Jazzy and eclectic, that’s what Sketches of Brunswick East is — in or out of context.
With the incorporation of jazz-lounge textures, and Zimbabwean vibes via the help of a flute and marimba respectively, King Giz has made yet another moon-landing-sized leap in style. If albums were a fruit and bands a tree, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard would be the only fruit bearing tree you’d need. Unless you only like pears — you’d be out of luck.
I really wasn’t concerned about the band’s lofty five-album ambitions. At least, not until their last album. Murder of the Universe wasn’t great, easily their worst album (their worst, yet still a work of fine musicianship). It was simply more experimental (psych rock narrated by a vomiting sci-fi future robot’s gibberish, for context) than expected. So what? King Giz pushed their boundaries, since then they’ve nestled into a delightful sound-orgy, and called it Sketches of Brunswick East. Looks like the psychedelic juices aren’t boiling over yet.
This is King Giz’s most approachable album. Though it still boasts experimental excellence, the chill that Brettin undoubtedly infused into the King Giz extravagance wears comfortably against the old eardrums. Not to say that any other King Giz album doesn’t, but obviously their energy and psych-style sits reasonably far away from cocktail party music.
Bands who attempt new voyages into musical rebranding knowingly embark into stormy seas. King Giz avoided that potential derailing by releasing Sketches of Brunswick East.