Review: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Paper Mâché Dream Balloon
As if the name wasn't enough! These guys are something else...
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For those of you who have somehow not heard of this visionary band, they’re a psychedelic seven-piece from Melbourne who formed five years ago, and have managed to churn out two albums per year since then.
Not only do they have one of the most wonderful band names in the music industry, the title of their latest album (‘Paper Mâché Dream Balloon’) is equally splendid, whilst the sleeve gives us a privileged insight into what Mumford and Sons would look like if their line-up consisted solely of paper mâché lumberjacks. And the music is equally strange.
The vibe is the kind of slightly twee indie pop that Belle and Sebastien are famous for. The dominant instrument is flute, and believe it or not it works! You don’t often hear people talking about flute riffs, but 'Bones' and 'Dirt' have some great ones. This is also one of the few albums in which someone sings about dead bodies to the sound of cheery flutes and harmonica buzzing energetically in the background, an opportunity which surely cannot be wasted!
Speaking of the lyrics, my they’re odd! The title track finds front-man Ambrose Kenny-Smith ‘stuck in a daydream/ under a moonbeam’, and he doesn’t seem to wake up from said daydream until the album’s finished. Whilst the lyrics of Paper Mâché Dream Balloon are more or less nonsense, a lot of the other refrains have a vaguely unnerving quality.
On Trap Door, Kenny-Smith sings ‘everybody goes to great lengths I’m sure/ to hide themselves away/ to keep the beast at bay’. Another song is called N. G. R. I., the acronym for ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’, and the refrain is the curiously amusing ‘mundane bloodstain’, accompanied of course by manic piano, jolly harmonica and something that sounds like a sitar.
Genre is very much up in the air. 'Bones' and 'Dirt' have a loose folk-pop sound, which variously gives way to the plodding blues rock of 'The Bitter Boogie' and the deliciously chilled jazz of opener Sense. Kenny-Smith has a voice akin to Belle and Sebastien's Stuart Murdoch; his delivery is always relatively deadpan no matter how strange the words get, and you can tell he’s enjoying himself.
As a whole there’s a real feeling of joy to this album; the beginning of 'Dirt' in particular explodes like a ray of sunshine. Throughout there’s a live feel to the record, as the band power through the tracks at break-neck pace. You can’t help falling into their otherworldly groove, and it all ends far too soon.
True, if you try and remember any of the songs after you’ve listened to the album all the way through you’ll struggle. When 'Paper Mâché', the concluding instrumental track, recaps all the melodies on flute, you’ll have trouble placing most of them. Nevertheless, I can guarantee this record will put a smile on your face, and it’s a great antidote to the declining weather and shortening days.
So forget One Direction and the Biebs! It’s all about that flute solo.