We rank every King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard album from worst to best
From Torquay surf-rats to Australian garage-rock commodity, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard are one of the most prolific and intriguing guitar bands doing the rounds right now – not just here at home. Due to their wildly-prolific nature, it might be a daunting task to work your way into their discography – hell, by the time you read this, they might have already released another album. Still, never fear: We’re here to not only provide a crash course in Gizzard Wizardry, but to separate the ‘Hot Wax’ from the not-so-hot wax. This, as of May 2016, is the King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard album discography, ranked.
8. Quarters! (2015)
Our journey begins with an album that sports a remarkable idea but a lacklustre execution. The concept behind Quarters! was to make an album that’s exactly 40 minutes and 40 seconds long; comprised of four tracks running at – you guessed it – 10 minutes and 10 seconds apiece. Exactly why the band chose this environment to settle into light brushes and gentle strokes when they should be spewing kaleidoscopes all over the canvas is anyone’s guess, but it’s more than just a matter of wrong place, wrong time as far as the stylistic approach is concerned. All of that could be forgiven if the songs themselves held up – which, sadly, is not quite the case here. Instead of filling out their full run-time, the tracks seem to meander about in ambience until they’ve fulfilled their obligations and moved onto the next quarter. Save for perhaps the opening number, ‘The River’, you’re not missing out on much if you choose to skip over this one.
7. Eyes Like the Sky (2013)
This, in retrospect, perhaps should have been the sign that King Gizzard were never going to be your stock-standard garage-rockers. The band decided to follow up their rattle-and-roll debut around six months after its release in a manner most befitting of Monty Python: “And now, for something completely different.”
Eyes Like the Sky is a spaghetti-western narrative, its story overseen by storyteller Broderick Smith (the father of the band’s harmonica player/multi-instrumentalist Ambrose).One could even treat Eyes less like an album as such and more like an audiobook, with King Gizzard soundtracking this classically-styled shoot-’em-up with vivid detailing and smartly-juxtaposed inter-band dynamics. It’s an odd record to judge in contrast with the others, purely on the basis of it being so different and not necessarily one finds themselves returning to all that often. Nevertheless, Eyes Like the Sky deserves credit for upping the band’s instrumental chops and allowing them to not be held back by convention nor tradition.
6. Oddments (2014)
King Gizzard’s most hyperactive LP to date. This album springs and bounces all over the place, dropping brisk and rushing ideas but never making them feel as though they’re half-cooked. Its punchiness is to be admired, as is the precision with which the band approaches each new element that works its way into the album’s sound. Oddments is also home to ‘Hot Wax’, one of the band’s defining singular moments that throws both drummers a bone with some seriously hip-shaking grooves – not to mention the distorted howl of the harmonica that lends one of the song’s sharpest hooks. There’s plenty to enjoy on Oddments, but it’s hard to deny this track as its centrepiece.
5. 12 Bar Bruise (2012)
It all started here, with the crackle of lo-fi fuzz and guitars strapped up as high as the band members themselves. 12 Bar Bruise is a no-bullshit ballroom blitz, a half-hour of head-wobbling, knee-bopping rock & roll that showcases a young, hungry band ready to take on all comers. Perhaps that’s something that’s only come through on the album through means of hindsight – after all, at the time of this release the band only had but a paltry EP to their name. Even so, you can’t deny that there’s something special brewing on 12 Bar Bruise.
It doesn’t quite tip off the more psychedelic and progressive elements of the band’s sound that would eventuate on later releases, but the album is strongly indicative of their abilities around a fretboard and their penchant for writing songs that are catchy to the point of being nearly hypnotic. Also, let’s not lie: This album gets extra points for naming a song ‘Garage Liddiard’.
4. I’m In Your Mind Fuzz (2014)
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that King Gizzard’s latest record, which is intended to be played on an infinite loop, stemmed originally from the opening suite of I’m in Your Mind Fuzz, which is quite comfortably up the top of the band’s crowning achievements. With its rollicking, incessant drums matched up to a zipping bass-line and guitars that build up, drag down and scatter about into utter chaos, you’ll have a hard time coming across King Gizzard at a wilder, hairier time.
The rest of Mind Fuzz is a little more calm and groovy – presumably because the band were completely out of breath after the title track brings the four-part acid trip to a conclusion – but it’s still worth investigating for numbers like ‘Hot Water’ and ‘Satan Speeds Up’. An album of peaking highs and glorious comedowns. Take two of these and call in the morning.
3. Paper Machê Dream Balloon (2015)
After the minor misstep that was Quarters!, one could have easily anticipated that King Gizzard’s next outing would be yet another hard day’s night of wigging out until the acid turns brown. That’s where you slip up – it’s never, ever wise to guess what this band will do next. They’re going to sock you with a left while you’re bracing for a right – it’s essentially how the game has come to be played in the short but fruitful time that we’ve known the band.
Instead of turning the amps up to 11, King Gizzard turned the amps off completely – Paper Machê is literally an unplugged album, featuring entirely-acoustic instrumentation that includes flute, double bass and clarinet among other bits and bobs. It’s also home to some of the bands brightest and peppiest compositions, showing off not only their collective versatility but their knack for chameleonic genre-hopping. Oddly, by being one of the least King Gizzard-sounding albums, Paper Machê ends up being one of their best.
2. Nonagon Infinity (2016)
Once you start, you can’t stop. For album number eight, King Gizzard decided to piece together nine songs that seamlessly transition into one another – to the point where they could be played continuously, on an infinite loop. If you’re going to be stuck with only nine songs for the rest of time, it helps if they happen to be good ones – and, in a total surprise package, Nonagon sees the band deliver in a major way. The guitars are wailing, the drums are pounding and the energy levels never drop for a second – even when the loop transitions into groovier moments like ‘Wah Wah’ or ‘Mr. Beat’.
It’s the sound of a band at once vital, inspired and relentless on the attack; hungry for more despite a canon of work that would leave most bands in a state of complete creative exhaustion. One of the key problems with Quarters! was that it would waste a lot of its runtime in an aimless, meandering state. There are no such issues with Nonagon – it is a record that can safely be described as airtight. Now to see if they’ll ever attempt to play the whole thing live.
1. Float Along, Fill Your Lungs (2013)
Before we get into the finer details, let’s make one thing clear. It is not purely the fact that ‘Head On/Pill’ – the band’s opus, defining song and one of the flat-out best jams of the 2010s so far – opens Float Along that qualifies it as the strongest King Gizzard record to date. It certainly assists in the matter, but to shoulder it entirely at the top of the tracklist is to negate what is the band’s most cohesive, clever and creative full-length.
This isn’t just King Gizzard’s best album – this album is King Gizzard. Head-spinning freakouts? Check. Lush, hazy moments of bliss? Check. Stylish and slick strut-inducing groovers? Check. In just eight tracks, the band manages to encapsulate their past, present and future – it’s such an assured record that it would take most bands until their tenth to sound as confident in the sound they have established for themselves. There is so much to enjoy across the entire King Gizzard canon, but it’s Float Along that will always draw you back in for more each and every time.