After dazzling fans of long, twisting, freak-out jams with their epic Quarters album, the ever-whimsical Australian group King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard make a stylistic left turn on Paper Mâché Dream Balloon. Recorded mainly on acoustic instruments, liberally spiced with flutes, violins, and harmonicas, and full of concise, quietly hooky tunes, the record sounds like the most eccentric batch of backporch pop to come along since the prime of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. From the opening "Sense" right through to the end, the group sets a laid-back, relaxed mood and rarely breaks free, or breaks a sweat. Unlike previous albums, the band seems content to deliver songs that are easily accessed and simple to break down instead of jumping from one idea to the next. Fans of their past wild musical shifts and swings, and electric guitars, might find this record a little on the mild side, but the songs are good enough to keep any leftovers happy. Quite a few of them have big, sunny hooks that can bring smiles on a rainy day ("Time = Fate," "Most of What I Like"), while the rest are sweet enough to worry a diabetic (especially the title track and the lovely "Dirt"). Besides, even with the calmer, less frantic approach the band takes, there is still enough weirdness on display to keep things very interesting. "Trapdoor," for one, is the kind of tripped-out, goofy jam the band specializes in, and even the songs that sound pretty normal have a little bit of oddness creeping around the edges. It keeps them from falling into the blissed-out jam band trap, even though fans of more adventurous jam band sounds would find much to like here. Paper Mâché Dream Balloon is about as straight as King Gizzard are ever likely to be, and it still totally works thanks to the high level of songcraft and their innate weirdness, which will always come out no matter how hard they may try to keep it under wraps.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra