Album “L.W.” highlights controversial issues through rock

Photo courtesy of aka Francois aka Mister Pink, Flickr

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard recently released their latest album “L.W.” With elements the band has explored in the past, the album is a strong encapsulation of psychedelic rock stylings paired with microtonal tunings, something less common in western music and featured more prominently in music from the Middle East.

This is the 16th album by the Melbourne sextet and the third to make distinct use of microtonal tunings, a direct continuation of their 2020 album, “K.G.” But where “K.G.” suffered from a lot of the tracks sounding too similar to each other, the songs on “L.W.” work much better at standing on their own and presenting unique sounds.

The album opens with the song “If Not Now, Then When?” which also served as the first single preceding the album back in December. It crashes its way through the door with heavy drums and comes backed by a distorted desert rock guitar riff.

Past the intro, the song is centered around funky synth lines that are harmonically grooving with some less funky higher pitched keys. Lyrically the song describes the ever-mounting consequences of climate change and states we need to address these issues now and not later.

The first few tracks are alright, but the album really shows its hand with the fourth track “Supreme Ascendancy.” Starting with the gentle plucking of strings, soon a sitar enters and the track rolls into an organ fueled psychedelic rock powerhouse. The lyrics to this song, like most on the album, are filled with social commentary.

The song is about those who abuse their power and refuse to answer for their crimes, specifically the sexual assault allegations that have come out against a number of priests within the Catholic church. Singer Ambrose Kenny-Smith delivers this message repeatedly throughout the chorus singing, “Supreme ascendancy, tomfoolery / You're not above the law, no matter your beliefs.”

The song “East West Link” is another track of political and social commentary, talking about the extremely unpopular Australian highway of the same name. The highway’s construction is going to cost billions and a tree that is sacred to the Djab Wurrung people was bulldozed to make room for it. The song makes use of gruff and distorted riffs while also bringing in the haunting sound of a harmonica and the droning cry of the zurna.

The album ends with the eight and a half minute crushing sounds of “K.G.L.W.” The track is much heavier than anything else on the album and seemingly abandons most of the psychedelic tendencies of previous songs for more of a doom metal sound.

Everything about this track is intense, from the slow chanting of the vocals to the way the music creeps in from a sparse minimalist style to a crunching wall of noise that hits you immediately. It's an epic conclusion, defying expectations, but still delivering an incredible song.

4/5 stars

 

bhopper@ramapo.edu