Review Summary: Scattershot, wild and colorful like its cover. Youthful energy in audio format.
Over the past year or more specifically since the release of their breakout record Nonagon Infinity, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard had a lot of buzz going around them. But that’s not surprising given how the band themselves do everything to generate that buzz. From their highly energetic live shows to their prolific output right down to the music which seem to be a never-ending pit of widely creative ideas that strings together pretty much everything from 1960’s psychedelica and 70’s progressive rock to jazz fusion, folk, heavy metal, and even more. With each new release bandleader Stu Mackenzie and his partners show new and exciting combinations of their ever-changing sound, making them one of the most exciting and unpredictable groups of contemporary music.
While nowadays they’re mostly known for such expansive kaleidoscope-like journeys such as Quarters or Murder of the Universe, in the starting days Gizzard was a different band. Although the heavy reliance on distortion effects, and unconventional sound mixtures were already a major part of their sound, their songwriting was mostly a mixture of garage rock and 1950/60’ surf music but with noisy, harsh guitars, fast paced rhythms and an emphasis on catchy hooks.
What does this means for “Wiloughby’s Beach”? For starters while being a 9-song EP, it packs a brisk pace with only 22 minutes, and tracks that barely even reach the 3 minute mark. The band wastes no time here, as “Danger $$$” already throws us into a mixture of punkish 4/4 riffs, gang vocals and a wall of cacophonic guitar feedback that nearly drowns the instruments. After that we get an eclectic array of songs from the Beach Boys-influenced “Black Tooth”, and the infectious “Crookedile” to the all-out psych-pop of the title track. Or I could mention “Stone Mullet” which throws in some harmonicas to the soaring guitars.
The hazy, often dreamlike atmosphere, the upbeat, jumpy song structuring with the unpolished, lo-fi mixing and Stu Mackenzie’s equally unchained, shouting vocals are all come together in a basic, but entertaining mixture while also laying the groundworks from which the band started to build upon. If you’re interested in the early roots of King Gizzard or a wilder version of The Flaming Lips, you can’t really go wrong with “Wiloughby’s Beach”.