There is no current band working harder than King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. The six-piece experimental rock combo from Melbourne, Australia has released 25 albums since their debut LP in September 2012. The shocking part: almost all their releases are good.
The group consistently experiments with new sounds and musical styles — whether it is microtonal tuning in “Flying Microtonal Banana,” jazz-inspired chord progressions in “Changes” or flirtings with heavy metal in “Nonagon Infinity” — almost always with virtuosic success. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard never settle on a singular sound, constantly pushing the boundaries of contemporary rock music.
Their newest release, “The Silver Cord,” continues this tradition of musical experimentation by featuring a synthesizer-heavy electronic sound — swapping hard rock guitar riffs and energetic drumming with spacey piano lines and digital drum loops. The result is one of their best albums to date, encapsulating the band’s ability to maintain their signature attitude while still sounding very different from anything they have previously released.
“The Silver Cord” is packaged as two albums in one: the standard edition and the extended mix. Both contain the same seven tracks, clocking in at just over 28 and 88 minutes, respectively. On the extended mix, every song is longer, giving synthesizer jams and prolonged solos more room, while maintaining the same lyrics and general sound.
A signature component of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s creative output is their emphasis on each album’s cohesion instead of the songs’ individualities. This is not to say the individual songs are bad — quite the opposite — but rather that they could not be shuffled around in a playlist and stand out on their own. They gain their significance within the collective they form with other tracks on the album.
“The Silver Cord” is no different. Every song seamlessly blends into the next, forming a spacey, yet often upbeat, psychedelic aesthetic. At the same time, each song offers a different tone to this overall theme, ranging from abstract and chill to energetic and industrial. The album adds even further depth to an already immensely deep discography, further cementing King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard as today’s most consistently exciting musical group.
The album begins with “Theia,” an ample introduction to the project, but a more tame and laid-back song than the tracks that follow. It is then followed by the title track, more minimalistic in sound than “Theia,” but also more psychedelic. The vocals take center stage in the title track, creating a wonderfully distorted yet ethereal tone.
“Set” takes the album into a more industrial direction, incorporating Beastie Boys-style rap and harsh bass lines into the preestablished synthesizer sound. “Chang’e” maintains this harshness, this time with a higher-register synthesizer line laying underneath the entire track. The song is complemented by a driving drum loop as the vocals turn back to the spacier aesthetics of the first two tracks.
The rapping returns in “Gilgamesh,” this time with a more intense electronic bass line and low-register throat singing, adding a rich timbre to the album. “Swan Song” offers a respite from the harshness, presenting an electronic dance tune with a catchy lead melodic line.
“The Silver Cord” concludes with “Extinction,” another high-energy tune that blends all the varying sounds of the album. It serves as a firm anchor to the LP’s ideas, a fitting conclusion to such a compelling record. And then, to the more seasoned fan of the band, the extended mix allows the listener to go back in and experience the album in a more immersive — albeit harder to approach — form.
With so many releases, it would seem easy for at least a handful of their albums to fall by the wayside. But when a band is so concerned with being original — like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is — every album has its own unique pedestal to stand on. “The Silver Cord” is no exception, and it serves as an example of how a band can keep on releasing hit after hit without showing any signs of slowing down.
Finn Kirkpatrick is an arts & culture editor. He is a junior from Los Angeles, California studying Comparative Literature who likes to review movies and other things of that sort.