King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Gumboot Soup Album Review
With just under 48 hours to spare, Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (KGATLW) were able to complete their promise of releasing five studio albums in 2017 with Gumboot Soup. While the album certainly feels as though it was meant to be a victory lap for the prolific group as it offers some of the most accessible songs of their career so far, it instead finds itself retreading a race it had already run.
Effectively a b-sides compilation from all four previous projects released in 2017, Gumboot Soup incorporates the signature elements from KGATLW’s 2017 albums: microtones, metal-influences, jazz and progressive rock. Though the singles prior to the album’s release hinted at some exciting attempts to fuse these genres, such as “All Is Known” with its long prog-rock passages with micro-tuned guitars or the jazz/desert rock hybrid “Beginner's Luck,” the individual tracks lack this cohesive experimental concept. More often than not, they provide only a small variation in sound to previous styles KGATLW already experimented with in previous albums.
KGATLW’s success in 2017 stemmed from their ability to fully explore wide and varied range of sounds on each of their albums, honing in on a single sonic landscape or concept and pushing them to their artistic boundaries. While none of KGATLW’s previous 2017 albums can really be considered to have a perfect track list front to back, they were a complete and unique experience that transported the listener into a new world for the album’s runtime.
Gumboot Soup leaves this to the wayside, hopping between sonic palettes from track to track that clash too harshly for an enjoyable flow for the album. At one point the album goes from the doom-metal track “The Great Chain of Being” into the laid back and jazzy “The Last Oasis.” Both are great songs on their own that would sound right at home on Murder of the Universe or Sketches of Brunswick East respectively, but here contrast so starkly it creates a jarring effect for the listener.
There are a handful of other great tracks on the album that continue to showcase KGATLW still has room to blend their unique charismatic songwriting within these genres, “I’m Sleepin’ In” being the best example with its melancholic edge that rarely finds its way into KGATLW’s music. But strong tracks don’t make for a great album if they can’t create something grander as a whole than its individual parts.
Longtime fans will still find much to enjoy on Gumboot Soup since it offers an exciting, though and eclectic look into what KGATLW could have done with their styles in 2017. Gumboot Soup could even be viewed as a great entry point into the group’s staggering discography since it offers a little something of everything from their broad and diverse discography. But as a whole, the album fails to beg for repeat listens in its entirety. Fans will certainly be returning to Gumboot Soup’s highlights again and again into the future, but not the album as a whole at any one time.
Though the band may be ending their prolific 2017 run with their weakest release of the year, it nevertheless proves just how much KGATLW achieved in 2017 and how high they’ve raised the bar for their future releases. Gumboot Soup serves as a bookend to this chapter of KGATLW’s artistic output, in many ways almost feeling like KGATLW are shaking loose all the leftover ideas they had from the last year so they can offer something completely new in the years to come. Few artists have that kind of artistic drive to evolve their sound as KGATLW does, so if it takes a Gumboot Soup to get to that next stage in their career, then it’s difficult to fault KGATLW for doing so.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Public Relations