King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Quarters
Quarters, King Gizzard’s second album within the space of a year, is a marked departure from their previous release, the eclectic I’m In Your Mind Fuzz. For a start, the appropriately-named Quarters features only four songs, which each go for precisely ten minutes and ten seconds. For those acquainted with King Gizzard, tracks of these size are really no surprise. After all, the band have made a reputation for themselves by nailing tracks like these- “Head On/Pill” and the multi-track ‘Mind Fuzz’ were both highlights from their respective albums.
So it’s both surprising and non-surprising that Quarters is an exceedingly well crafted album. The band keep their schtick to a minimum, and despite the length of the songs, they are arranged perfectly; they continuously return to their refrain, with all of the extended jamming and instrumentation in between. The difference between this style of songwriting, and their efforts on I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, is that there’s a more relaxed feel to Quarters, which itself suits King Gizzard’s stylistic sensibilities. While their instrumental skills have never been in question, their attempts to harness them have been varied. Each of the four tracks on Quarters maintains attention through the diversity of each track, as well as the restraint and lack of self-indulgence throughout.
“The River” opens the album with its funky jazz guitar, and from there makes a strong candidate as one of the strongest tracks in King Gizzard’s discography to date; whereas their love of extended jams can sometimes be to their own detriment, the tone and form of “The River” gives the band the perfect environment to do so. “Infinite Rise” proves to be a highlight, with the song continuously circling back to its perpetually rising refrain. “God Is In The Rhythm” sounds like a King Gizzard contribution to a Grease soundtrack, with its doo-whop-y chorus and falsetto vocals. While the song is a rare example of the idea exhausting itself before the running time, for most of its duration it’s an absolutely mesmerising anachronism. Closer “Lonely Steel Sheet Flyer” is the album’s most psychedelic, yet elegant, moment. Again, the band’s restraint with their traditionally bigger sound works incredibly well, which combined with the usually solid rhythm section makes for another high-point.
Quarters is far and away King Gizzard’s best release since 2013’s Float Along- Fill Your Lungs. It ranks as one of their best so far. With the execution of each song carrying across their ideas, and with the arrangement and construction keeping them interesting and entertaining for their duration, the band have rarely been so focused. And yet, they have never sounded more relaxed. Their willingness to experiment with their own sound has led to both their highest and lowest moments; count Quarters as one of the highest.
Quarters is out now via Flightless / Remote Control Records.
Review by Adrian Pedić.