More about: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
As Australian psychedelic supergroup King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard release their twentieth official album Omnium Gatherum, we thought it would be a good time to sit back and reflect on the incredible work created by the band so far. Where most bands have a defined Fan Favourite, a Their First Album Was Their Best Work, Trust Me Album and usually a Sellout (a more recent album that people don’t think quite hit), King Gizzard’s discography leaves listeners with a lot of choice. But which comes out on top?
I sat down for several marathon listening sessions, put together a colour-coordinated Google sheet with a numbered rating system, and constructed the following 20 King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard albums ranked in the list below. Sit back, search for your favourite, rage at the rankings, and bask in the glory and ability of this band that has produced such an eclectic selection over the past decade. We’re going to count down, so you’ll have to wait until the very end to know which album was lucky enough to hit the top spot...
Disclaimer: This is using albums released on Spotify and not including vinyl-only releases (Timeland), remix albums, or live collections (Chunky Shrapnel).
20 - 12 Bar Bruise
12 Bar Bruise is somewhat more experimental in terms of psychedelic blues rock than the band’s first album, yet offers little in terms of listenability. KGATLW manage to produce extremely full-packaged experiences in many of their genre-spanning albums, but sadly 12 Bar Bruise falls a little short of this. The album has some fantastic tracks, and features the band’s first “boogie” titled track ('Cut Throat Boogie') which opens with a glorious cacophony of sound from an extremely tinny-sounding guitar and an extremely aggressive harmonica. The tracks are fantastic standing alone, but the album lacks the synergy of earning a higher-up spot on the list, and sadly fits nicely into the last place slot.
19 - Eyes Like The Sky
KGATLW dip their toes into what will be a future plentiful pool of spoken-word and narrative story-music with Eyes Like The Sky. A consistent Wild West theme ties this album together, complete with a generous helping of King Gizz twang to create the perfect pistol-smoking atmosphere. It’s a fantastic introduction into the world of narrated music, which the band explore in future depth with the creation of their own musical universe in later albums. Where the album lacks, however, in comparison to later releases, is in variation and having a particular flair. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a quality listening experience, which should definitely be consumed in one go, but it fits in lower down the ranking of albums due to the overall quality and interest.
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18 - Butterfly 3000
A much debated album among fans, with some truly innovative songs within, such as 'Blue Morpho' and 'Black Hot Soup'. The album has a solid motif throughout, acting as a kind of synth-pop ‘variation on a theme’. It’s good fun, and a great dreaming-away-the-day album, probably pushing the band’s psychedelic elements to its furthest sound so far. The opening track, 'Yours', has some genuinely fun musical call-and-response sections, which I’m sure would make for an incredible live experience. However, the album lands low down on the ranking system as unlike some other explorations of genre by the band, Butterfly 3000 fails to pack the innovative punch. Due to the album receiving differing views from fans, I was determined to turn over a new leaf and change my mind on Butterfly 3000, but I think it sits comfortably in its position at number 18.
17 - Willoughby’s Beach
The band’s debut album Willoughby's Beach is a fun, slacker rock album with some absolute earworm tracks. You get to know the iconic King Gizzard “Wow!” vocalisation which sits proudly throughout the band’s entire discography. The use of harmonica certainly puts the album apart from most surf / stoner / psychedelic rock of the same time, as it adds a quirky edge to the band's sound that will soon become recognisable across the discography. However, whilst the album itself is a lot of fun, the band has much more to show elsewhere in terms of their abilities. Highlights from the album include the title track 'Willoughby’s Beach', 'Black Tooth' and 'Dustin Fletcher'. It is a tremendous stand-alone album in its own right, and an impressive debut for the band.
16 - Quarters
Quarters is another example of an incredibly cool concept for an album, consisting of four long tracks each varying in genre and style. 'The River' uses swing elements and a sound akin to Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, whereas 'God Is In The Rhythm' is a much more dream-pop, lazy summer day jam track. It’s a brave task to do, releasing an album with such few tracks, but it's this confidence and daring that makes the band so recognisable and appreciated amongst their fans. It also takes a lot of ability to be able to produce long tracks with jam elements without them sounding too much like a group of mates who haven’t quite mastered the ability to finish a song. Nonetheless, the album doesn’t quite make it past the bottom five in the ranking as in some places, it is a fairly staple example of dreamy, semi-experimental psychedelic rock.
15 - Sketches of Brunswick East
Sketches of Brunswick East is a fun dabble into jazz, funk and soul, done in collaboration with Alex Brettin’s experimental project Mild High Club. The album is a gorgeous fusion of genre, with some truly delicious tracks ('Countdown', 'Tezeta') creating a sound previously unheard by both artists. Sketches uses some real swing-jam elements, particularly in 'The Spider and Me', which creates a seamless dreamy, jazzy atmosphere. It’s got a lot of lo-fi elements as well, which makes for an overall extremely pleasant listening experience. King Gizzard dabble in the jazz genre later in their discography, but this album certainly focusses on it the most, thanks to Alex Brettin’s work. It’s lacking slightly in the drive of other albums, but I think that’s where it stands proud, and works as a peaceful landscape to escape to on a summer’s day.
14 - Oddments
This album is truly beloved by many fans of the band, as it seems to be the album where King Gizzard begins to fuse concept, genre and style. The opening track, featuring a striking sample from the film Alluda Majaka, jolts the listener away from any preconceptions of what style the band is going into next. Oddments is the band demanding to be seen as not your average Aussie psych-rock band, and it is hugely successful in this. This album sits comfortably away from the bottom five, as an example of King Gizzard finding their feet within experimentation, and deciding where they belong.
13 - K.G.
The first in the reasonably back-to-back releases of K.G. and L.W, K.G. sees the band return to microtones which they previously put together with great success (as you’ll find out further down the page). K.G. is a genuinely enjoyable album, and features one of the band’s most “different” sounding tracks to date, 'Intrasport'; bouncy, funky, catchy and filled to the brim with mystical menace. Try listening to it without bouncing along. It’s impossible. Other tracks return to psychedelic rock in some of its most classic, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard forms, such as 'The Hungry Wolf Of Fate', or 'Automation'.
12 - Nonagon Infinity
This ranking is sure to create some controversy, as this album is arguably a huge fan favourite, mainly due to its structure as a never-ending album, completely syncing into itself. Nonagon Infinity is a hugely innovative album, filled with band-constructed mythology, creative lyrics and some truly mosh-able psychedelic-rock sections. Why not in the top ten then, you ask? I’m not denying it is a fantastic album and a truly creative vision, but the songs, when separate from each other as a whole, aren’t quite as strong. Iconic track 'Mr. Beat' is probably an exemption from this, but despite the band putting together a truly solid album, the façade alone isn't quite enough to push it into the top spots. Sorry!
11 - L.W.
Flash forward to 2021, to L.W, the “part two” of previously released album K.G. The opening track, 'If Not Now, Then When?' opens with a violent outburst of a microtonal guitar build up and an impressive show of drum fills. The track immediately drops down into a jumpy, funked-up and bouncy track, completely pulling the rug from under you if you were expecting the album to descend into psych-rock. Highlights of the album include the incredible 'Pleura', with extremely menacing lyrics such as “I exercise my right to die”, a droning “Pleura, Pleura” motif that feels like it was taken straight from the band’s thrash metal experiment era, all tied together by a light, mystical sounding section using woodwind to differ between the sections. The final track, 'K.G.L.W', is possibly one of the band’s best tracks yet, with an extremely creative structure of a final act that rings together themes from both the K.G. and L.W. albums, as well as previous work by the band.
10 - Gumboot Soup
Gumboot Soup is one of those albums which deserves a whole lot more love. Its opening track 'Beginner’s Luck' doesn’t offer a huge amount other than being a decent dreamy, psychedelic song, which might not sound too peculiar placed alongside The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. However, get further down the album, and you’re in for an absolute treat. 'Muddy Water' is mysterious, silly and strikingly visual as the lyrics turn away from the heat and harshness of the Australian coast and long for the natural depth and “muddy waters” of the rivers. Gumboot Soup plays with genre in a way some other King Gizzard albums don’t, and truly deserves its place in the top ten. For a track with an incredible classic King Gizzard sound, check out 'All Is Known': an absolutely underrated masterpiece of a psychedelic rock song. Put alongside the more folksy elements of the album, Gumboot Soup ties together for an incredible listening experience.
9 - Fishing for Fishies
Taking the slightly higher spot in the top 10 is Fishing for Fishies, an album that dabbles in boogie rock, country, blues, synth-rock and folk, all whilst lamenting the environmental future of planet earth. The sound is hugely optimistic in places, but the lyrics are starkly accurate. Hearing lyrics such as “It’s gonna be brutal / death will come from plastic” over the top of a boogie/blues rock track is somewhat terrifying and inspiring at the same time, and could even be considered a call to action. The opening track, 'Fishing for Fishies', has a real country and folk sound, and the following track 'Boogieman Sam' is some of the most fun work that the band have released.
Fishing for Fishies is fun, funky, and closing track 'Cyboogie' — which sounds like if the band collaborated with Kraftwerk — helped put the album proudly on number 9 for the list. A truly genre-spanning masterpiece.
8 - Flying Microtonal Banana
Flying Microtonal Banana saw the band experiment with microtones for the first time. Microtonal tuning is different from the western concept of musical tuning; it sees a classic octave divided into 24 equally-distanced quarter tones. The result is incredible; a genuinely innovative and experimental sound, very different to most music coming out of psychedelic, classic and experimental rock. The album was named after the guitar used by Stu Mackenzie throughout that was custom-built for the record: the Flying Microtonal Banana, a strikingly bright yellow guitar complete with microtonal tuning on the frets. Flying Microtonal Banana fuses the sounds of all different types of music and creates a genuinely fascinating piece of art. The album is loved by critics, music theory extraordinaires and King Gizzard fans alike (the groups do tend to cross over). Top tracks include fan favourite 'Rattlesnake', 'Nuclear Fusion' and 'Anoxia'.
7 - Float Along - Fill Your Lungs
Float Along - Fill Your Lungs is an absolute psychedelic masterpiece. The album opens with a 15-minute long track, 'Head On/Pill', and the listening experience conjures images of gorgeous landscapes, bright colours and a psychedelic headspace. The track has a sort of glory to it; the relentless theme never gets tiring and is a wholly immersive track throughout, taking the listener away to a land of the band’s own creation. The album’s title track, 'Float Along - Fill Your Lungs', features some of the most beautiful-sounding guitar riffs, and sounds ready to be played at a festival as the sun sets. The album is so much more than just a potential live listening experience; however, it is genuinely transformative to the listener in sound quality, variation and overall musical feel. If you’re wanting an introduction to the band, this is your way in. Put aside some time to listen to the album in one go, and fade away into the dreamscape Gizz-world.
6 - I’m in Your Mind Fuzz
Opening with a song featuring a main riff played simultaneously on guitar and harmonica, you know you’ve made it into King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s experimental playground. Some of the sounds of this album are reminiscent of classic rock bands like Rush, but with this spooky motif that runs throughout. It’s an incredible sound and is the first album in their discography where a truly recognisable King Gizzard sound can be heard emerging. Nonagon Infinity has a similar sound to I’m In Your Mind Fuzz in terms of genre, but just doesn’t compare when it comes to overall sound and the quality of tracks like 'Hot Water', 'I’m in Your Mind Fuzz', and 'Satan Speeds Up'. Not quite enough to get it in the top 5, but truly a landmark album for the band.
5 - Omnium Gatherum
The band’s twentieth album, despite only being recently released, has earned itself on the wall of fame for the top 5 albums. It’s another delightful fusion of genre, with the synth elements of Butterfly 3000 combined with some of the classic King Gizzard sounds. If you want to hear how far this band has come in the past twenty albums, all you have to do is listen to the opening track 'The Dripping Tap', a 15-minute long jam track. Jokes around the band’s genre-spanning works have led people to question when the band will release a rap album or a funk album. Ominmum Gatherum quashes these rumours; it’s all of these in one. 'Sadie Sorceress' features a cinematic opening into a funk drum beat with a shout rap over the top, reminiscent of a Beastie Boys track, complete with the quirkiest of lyrics, “Snapping necks with her broomstick getting torturous”. The track also has a feature from one of the band members' 97-year-old grandmas. It’s an absolute musical delight. Whilst making your way through the album, don’t forget to feast your ears on eerie-sounding 'The Garden Goblin', and 'Predator X'. Omnium Gatherum will most likely go down as a fan favourite for the future as one of the most musically sound albums the band has put together.
4 - Infest the Rats' Nest
If Fishing for Fishies is the band’s angelic climate change album, Infest the Rats' Nest is the devil. A truly innovative dip into the murky waters of thrash metal, the band pays respect to the genre whilst adding their own spin to it. This is both a way for thrash metal fans to get into the band, and King Gizzard fans to give the genre a go. Declaring in the first track “There is no Planet B” the band protest against the destruction of the earth in a rage-fuelled experiment into metal. The concept of this album as a real project, and an overall success, puts it comfortably into the top 5 albums. The album is slick, and where in previous tracks there has been space for jamming and jazzy experimentation, Infest the Rats' Nest is incredibly precise and has a strict focus to it that makes it a genuinely fascinating album to listen to.
3 - Paper Mâché Dream Balloon
Returning to 2015, Paper Mâché Dream Balloon opens with a serene-sounding dream-pop folk fusion track 'Sense', complete with woodwind backing and a simple motif throughout. It sets the scene for this country/folk sounding album, which creates a gorgeous farmyard landscape. Paper Mâché Dream Balloon’s country sound is highly revered by fans of the band, and despite not having the heavier elements of other albums, it dabbles in dark themes in an oxymoronic dreamy soundscape. It’s a perfect example of taking genres and blending them together, something which King Gizzard masters here. It has such a high position on the scale due to how genuinely different and intriguing the album sounds, neatly put together with enough variation to stop it from ever sounding repetitive.
2 - Murder of the Universe
Murder of the Universe was a solid contender for the top spot. The album fuses a story, an entire mythology constructed by the band, and some of the best prog-rock sounding instrumentation to date. The story of the album leaves a lot to explore if you’re a fan of the “lore” behind the band’s music, featuring a universe-destroying vomiting robot. It’s quite the tale. The album’s strongest track, 'The Lord of Lightning', revisits themes from Nonagon Infinity, and serene narration clashes with harsh-sounding rising riffs on the guitar. The listener is fully immersed in the King Gizzard ‘universe’, with the band creating a fantastical and futuristic landscape. Murder of the Universe is an extremely powerful concept album, almost a musical in itself, with genuinely intriguing storytelling and musical experimentation. It’s King Gizzard doing what they do best, and creates a genuinely unique listening experience that you would not get from most other bands.
1 - Polygondwanaland
When looking at the album cover for Polygondwanaland, you’re treated to a mystical looking artwork of shapes, symbols and colours. The album mirrors this with a multi-faceted opening track ('Crumbling Castle') rising and falling in tension, jumping between time signatures and musical sounds. Later in the album, 'Horology' displays some of the band’s cleverest work with polyrhythm, with in parts the drums and two different guitars playing completely different and variably complex patterns.
The concept of the polygon continues throughout: in the artwork, the repetitive shape-like motifs and combining all sorts of different sounds and textures together. There are some absolutely gorgeous-sounding harmonies on 'Horology', in between labyrinthine verses and mosaic build ups. 'Tetrachromacy' follows with complex rhythms and layering but with a completely different sound. What sets this album apart from the others is its ability to combine all the best elements of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: the bizarre, the incomprehensive musical complexity, the intellectual songwriting, layering, use of genre and variation of instruments. All of the band’s eclectic ability is shown off in Polygondwanaland to the best of their efforts. It was difficult to decide on the number one spot for such a varied and complex band, but this hits the jackpot.
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More about: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard