Worth a Thousand Words: Fishing for Fishies by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Fishing for Fishies by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard:
Boogie for Your Life
Released: April 26, 2019
Label: Flightless Records
Australia’s finest, almost undefinable band boogies into 2019 with their 14th full release. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are proving to be hard to get rid of, much like the subject of their newest album. This time, the band is back with a clear-cut message: Humanity is destroying our world and, in turn, ourselves. Despite having a message that’s so easy to get behind, the common consensus on this album so far is that it may be the most difficult record to connect with that the band has released to date. Does that sentiment have any clout or is that belief just as invaluable as the garbage we so easily toss away?
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have such a varied discography that it’s easy for everyone to find something they really like. Personally, I think that I like mellow King Gizzard the best, and as such I really, really like this album so far; it’s so much fun to listen to, and I can't help but feel that the band probably had a lot of fun making it. The album features a blend of blues, jazz, rock and even a touch of electronic house music (which isn't totally out of place when you listen to the album the whole way through). The word 'boogie' is repeated so many times in the album that I can't help but start to dance when I hear most of these songs. This album is interesting from both a production and style aspect. The transitions between most of the tracks on this album are so delicately crafted that it can be hard to tell where one track ends, and another begins. But in some ways, it’s a little all over the place. Fishing for Fishies combines the best parts of Paper Mâché Dream Balloon with a little bit of Sketches of East Brunswick, and even the more bluesy-feeling albums that have been produced by Ambrose and his other band The Murlocs. 'Uncle Murl', as Murlocs fans affectionately call him, can be felt all over this album from the roaring harmonica parts that are included in almost every track to the more blues-rock-esque tracks like "Boogieman Sam", "Real's Not Real" or "This Thing". I'm happy to see that the band can take influence from each other and combine it all on their shared project. That being said, there are some shortcomings on this album.
If you dig through the rest of King Gizzard's discography, there are multiple examples of songs and whole albums that are very well thought out. While this album has an overarching theme that links all the tracks together, the way in which the band goes about connecting the dots is done a little haphazardly. For example, "Plastic Boogie" is a party-rock song that is incredibly fun to listen to and is a good fuel for my argument that the band had a great time recording this album. Featuring a rowdy crowd, this song somewhat crudely tries to make a statement that is echoed across the entire album: We are ruining our planet through our wasteful nature and we need to stop before it's too late. That's an agreeable argument, one that the band has taken a strong stance for on this album; maybe it was just a fun coincidence that Earth Day was just a few short days before the Fishing for Fishies release. But their downplaying of the situation bay making the song feel playful may be a source of the negative reviews that others have been dolling out to the band. King Gizzard are usually a little more eloquent when they craft their songs and "Plastic Boogie" is anything but that at times; they quiet literally yell "F*ck all of that plastic" over most of the track. Making light of a serious situation may be hurting their overall reputation as songwriters. All criticism aside, I like the track for what it is: a fun song to jump around to with friends, one that very well might be one of my favorite songs from the album. To say that the entire album is written very simply would be a total lie, as there is no lack in the deep mysticism and thoughtful writing that we have seen from the band on previous albums. Take for example "Acarine", a track that easily could have been pulled from mystical Polygondwanaland. Acarine is a disease most commonly found in bee colonies that is caused by the infiltration of a specific mite. While this could be a cleverly disguised metaphor for how we've have infiltrated and damaged the nature around us, maybe it's supposed to just bring attention to the issues we could face by losing our bees to colony collapse, and how that could lead to our own collapse in turn.
While Fishing for Fishies may not be heralded as one of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's greatest pieces to date, I think that it stands, in my mind, as an example of how a band who has had a greatly prolific career so far can still enjoy playing together. This record was made as a message, which at times is very crudely and playfully conveyed, that we need to take better care of our planet. But maybe that’s what people need right now; there’s a sub-section of the internet that has created an anthropomorphized cartoon of the Earth in effort to get people to care about the environment, and its kind of working! Knowing how the group likes to build stories, it'll be interesting to see how the tale continues onto their next release. Prior to Fishing for Fishies, the band released a new single called "Planet B". This track again preaches the message of conservation but chooses to do so through thrash-metal, not flower-power, metaphorically showing how negative things could get when we throw nature out of balance. Only time will tell what their next project will be, but for now I’m going to soak in Fishing for Fishies and some sunshine over the next few months as it begins to warm up and get nice again and appreciate both this album and the nature that surrounds me.
The Final Cut:
Favorite Track: “Fishing for Fishies” or "Real's Not Real"
Ratings: (Based on a scale from 1 to 10, 0 – Hated It, 1 – Extremely Disliked, 2 – Greatly Disliked, 3 – Moderately Disliked, 4 – Slightly Disliked, 5 – Neutral, 6 – Slightly Enjoyed, 7 – Moderately Enjoyed, 8 – Greatly Enjoyed, 9 – Extremely Enjoyed, 10 – Loved It)
Length: 10, The full album is 43 minutes long, which is about average for King Gizzard, so I have no complaints there.
Mixing: 8, Fishing for Fishies combines some blues characteristics with elements of rock, along even with electronic music in the final two tracks. In my opinion, the mixing across all the tracks on this album is solid; the bass hits hard, the harmonica parts are heavy but at the same time crisp, and the lead guitar parts don't overpower anything. If I had one criticism, it’s that the distortion effects on most of the vocal parts across the album make it hard to fully understand Stu and Ambrose's already unique voices.
Lyrical Composition: 5, There are times when the lyrics in some of the tracks lack something to be desired. "Plastic Boogie" and "Cyboogie" have a couple sections that are repetitive at times which takes away from my enjoyment of the album on a deeper level, but Nonagon Infinity, one of my favorite King Gizzard albums, also has a bunch of tracks that do the same thing, so maybe I’m being to hypocritical. Even though King Gizzard writes some pretty fantastical pieces, Fishing for Fishies is a pretty playful album both in content and form.
Organizational Flow: 8, "Cyboogie" and "Acarine" feel a little out of place on this album when listened to separately from the other tracks. However, when you listen to Fishing for Fishies back to front, you can see the clear progression of song structures and styles that eventually lead us to the end, even if it does stick out a bit.
Overall “Sound”: 8, Like I mentioned back in the body of the review, this album will surely be one of the soundtracks to my summer and spring; it’s fun to listen to and includes a handful of tracks that could really bring life to a party.
Total Rating: 7.8/10
Luke Zlockie for Clamor, 2019
 McGregor, Samuel Emmett Beekeeping. Website. 29 April 2019. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/beekeeping#ref558948>.