King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

Gumboot Soup

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When 2017 started, the guys in King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard unveiled a plan to release five albums before the year was out. As the year came to a close, they had unleashed four: the experimental Flying Microtonal Banana, which was played on homemade, finely tuned instruments; the sci-fi synth prog Murder of the Universe; a trippy soft jazz collabo with Mild High Club entitled Sketches of Brunswick East; and the close-to-normal-sounding (for King Gizzard anyway) Polygondwanaland, which the band gave away for free. Right as the clock was striking midnight on the last day of the year, the group issued Gumboot Soup, an 11-song collection that sounded like outtakes from the year's other albums. "Greenhouse Heat Death" and "All Is Known" are microtonal jams that roil and boil like the songs on Flying Microtonal Banana, the metallic "The Great Chain of Being" has the proggy feel of Murder of the Universe, and a bunch of mellow tracks ("Superposition," "I'm Sleepin' In," "The Wheel") could have been warped a bit and slotted right into Sketches of Brunswick East. The rest of the songs are strong neo-psych that would have fit well on the grab bag that was Polygondwanaland; the soft rock "Beginner's Luck" would have been a highlight with its marshmallowy chorus and jabbing guitar solo, and the same goes for the almost funky "Down the Sink," which reveals a loose-limbed side the band doesn't often show. So yes, it's a collection of castoffs and almost-weres, but the amazing thing is that it sounds like a greatest-hits collection made up of songs that are fully realized and played with passion and weirdness, not a half-baked slag heap. In case anyone needed it, Gumboot Soup is yet more proof that King Gizzard were firing all year long on all five cylinders, plus about four more that most bands don't have, and the body of work they created is immensely, intensely, jaw-droppingly impressive.

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