King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

Polygondwanaland

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AllMusic Review by

Like the rest of their albums released in 2017, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard's fourth album of the year has a gimmick. This time it's not musical, though. The stunt here is that it's the world's first public domain album, given away free by the band and legal to sell by anyone who feels like pressing it up. After an album made with microtonal instruments, a synth prog epic, and a trip-hop jazz collaboration with Mild High Club, Polygondwanaland sounds like a consolidation of everything the band has done up until now, chewed up and spit back put in large and small chunks of psychedelic rock. The first song alone, the ten-minute-long "Crumbling Castle," employs microtonal guitars, layers in synths, sounds like space prog, has laid back jazz interludes and heavy metal breakdowns, and delivers all the trippy punch of their early work. After all the experiments and tricks, it almost sounds like the band is playing it safe, even if the song is a rampaging ball of barely controlled energy. They really aren't, though. Instead, they are delivering a record that plays to their strengths as songwriters and musicians instead of distracting people with some flashy idea. It's straight -- or as straight as possible -- King Gizzard, and at this stage of their career, that's a welcome development. Hearing them incorporate all the different sonic flourishes they've employed in the past in pursuit of good songs and not some higher concept means the album may slip past unnoticed, but it will sound great to anyone not scared off by the lack of theatrics. Tracks like the spookily restrained "Searching," the rampaging "The Fourth Colour," the tribal "The Castle in the Air," or the thrumming title track are the work of a band in full command of their process and results. Their fourth album of 2017 may not be their most exciting of the year, but it is their strongest and shows that King Gizzard don't need any bells and whistles to make a great psychedelic splash.

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