Life is full of comparisons, and comparisons are what you can expect when you create an album so purposely devoid of any consistent genre that it results in an emphasis on your potential influences.*
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s aptly titled fifth release Oddments does exactly this. Each of the album’s twelve songs differ from each other so drastically that it sounds like a compilation of twelve different bands. It’s at times interesting, at times admirable, and at times other-wordly; but constantly absent of the clear stamp of individuality they displayed in their previous two albums Float Along/Fill Your Lungs and 12 Bar Bruise.* It’s more or less the laboured attempt of seven collective 20-somethings to expel the notion that an album must adhere to one single genre.
So while the peddling of sounds is definitely a redeeming feature of the album, it’s the very theme of ‘theme-less-ness’ that defines Oddments; with the drastic variation between songs ironically pushing the album towards revivalism. And since ‘revivalism’ has lately become such a dirty word in review-land, I present evidence for my point. Listed below is each song on Oddments accompanied by another song – either slightly or eerily similar:
1. Alluda Majaka – Green Onions by Booker T & The MGs
If the ambitiousness of Eyes Like the Sky hinted anything about the future, it’s that King Gizzard were bound to eventually release an album with an instrumental opening. And what better an opening than a much more gnarly version of Booker T’s 1966 elevator classic?
2. Stressin’ – Flying by The Beatles
The addition of a dirty and tastefully short guitar solo is cool, but otherwise it isn’t fooling anyone.
3. Vegemite – Nothing. Just nothing.
Yeah nah nothing. This might just be the first song of it’s kind in the 80+ years of Vegemite, the 6000+ years of music, and the 40 000+ years of Australia. Why the first? Because it’s too true blue and totally absurd to really resemble anything besides a nursery rhyme. But here’s this anyway:
4. It’s Got Old – Mambo Sun by T Rex
In all fairness, It’s Got Old comes across as more of a homage to Marc Bolan than a rip-off. But you could still slip it into a T Rex back catalogue and nobody would notice.
5. Work This Time – Air
I can’t narrow it down to one particular song, but Work This Time shares a lot with Air’s Moon Safari in a really nice way. Spacey effects, smooth bass, nice keys and all round pleasantness. You also have to admire King Gizzard’s ability to put this song immediately after a T Rex-sounding rock banger and somehow pull it off.
6. ABCABcd. – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard of years’ past
When I say “of years’ past” I actually mean 2 years ago – which for King Gizzard is a hell of a lot of time given that Oddments is their third album in one year. In case you skipped their first two releases, ABCABcd. is pretty much a 17-second sample of what their second release 12 Bar Bruise sounded like.
7. Sleepwalker – Dandelion by The Rolling Stones and New Slang by The Shins
This one’s a bit of a mix. Its light-headed melody and childish lyrics are reminiscent of the late-60s Mick and Keith, blissed out on a mystical busload of psychedelics. Meanwhile, the airy and squeaky-clean acoustic guitar somewhat resembles The Shins at their peak (New Slang being their peak).
8. Hot Wax – The Cramps’ hypothetical cover of My Sharona
This is a great song, and it echoes the grotty, grimy, rockabilly garage sensibilities of The Cramps. Had The Cramps covered My Sharona, this would be a dead ringer – but fortunately they didn’t. Hot Wax also showcases the shapeshifting voice of King Gizzard’s frontman and lead songwriter Stu Mackenzie.
9. Crying – Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
King Gizzard’s arsenal of effects pedals obscures just how similar this riff is to Sweet Home Alabama. The same arsenal of effects pedals also recreates what is essentially exactly the same chord progression in a manner that is psychedelic rather than Southern. So props, I guess.
10. Pipe-Dream – 1967
I sat here for ten minutes trying to figure out exactly what Pipe Dream sounds like, because I know it sounds like something. Something ethereal, psychedelic and from the summer of love. But since nothing specific came to mind, let’s just say it sounds like 1967; ‘The Summer of Love’.
11. Homeless Man in Addidas – Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel
Mrs. Robinson goes to the shops and buys a flange pedal.
12. Oddments – nope.
Oddments marks the third out of their five releases where King Gizzard have closed with the title track, and regrettably this one kind of sucks. It’s little more than an awkward filler that spells the name of the album; so nonsensical that it’s almost reminiscent of that time Gwen Stefani spelled BANANAS for no apparent reason. So instead of a comparison, here is Willoughby’s Beach – both the closing title track from their first release and an indication of what Oddments (the song) could have been:
So there you have it. Oddments is a mishmash of sounds that King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard either intentionally or unintentionally borrowed from several other bands. It begins in a ludicrously ambitious manner, picks up as it goes, and then ends rather flatly. It’s a decent listen if you don’t mind revivalism.
5.5/10 – because I know they’re capable of making better albums than this.
- I don’t know who the heck King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s influences are.
- Eyes Like the Sky doesn’t count – and you know it.