It’s 2017 again. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Australia’s hottest psychedelic band, has just released its fifth album of the year. Fast forward four years to 2021, and the now seasoned band is (only) on its second album of the year. Released June 11, Butterfly 3000 is the prolific group’s 18th studio album and proves that the band hasn’t lost any of the gusto nor creativity that has kept it going through its diverse material and countless intricate storylines. Butterfly 3000 is part of an upward trend from the somewhat disappointing K.G. and the redeeming L.W., the band’s latest releases.
Changing gears from heavy microtonality, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard hopped on the trend of releasing positive, healing music laden with lovely synths and gentle guitars; it’s what we all need right now.
“Yours” begins the album with a hypnotizing rhythm and airy falsetto vocals courtesy of lead singer Stu Mackenzie. It’s a soothing start to Butterfly 3000, lifting it to a suspended dreamlike state. While the synths dominate, the familiar plucking of the guitar and lightning-fast drum fills still make a guest appearance on the song and throughout the rest of the album.
Like the band has done on many, if not most, of its other albums, Butterfly 3000 is one continuous piece of music, with each song transitioning without pause into the next. “Shanghai” picks up where “Yours” leaves off, launching into a beautiful and lulling track with Mackenzie treating listeners to the same tender falsetto. Rebirth and metamorphosis are brought up often on the track, reinforcing the album’s surreal nature. “One minute, you’re swigging on a green tea/ Next minute, floating on a pillow in a den,” sings Mackenzie, foreshadowing how it feels to listen to the record.
“Ya Love” is another song featuring the delicate, plucking guitar work heard on much of the band’s more acoustic-sounding work. The song makes good use of the dynamic between the synths and the pattering drums, resulting in instrumentals that are nothing short of pleasing, regardless of whether you’re a fan of the style of music. Even though more than half of the lyrics are just “Your love” repeated over and over, it’s catchy and fun.
Though not every song on the album is an instant hit, it’s clear the band members have gone back to the drawing board after L.W. and approached Butterfly 3000 with considerable thoughtfulness on how to continue making their music unique after such an extensive discography. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard has dipped its toes in everything from doom metal to nu jazz and an array of genres in between, and Butterfly 3000 is still like nothing the band has done before, yet it still bears recognition to the band’s distinct psychedelic sound.
The only way to describe the strongest song on the album, “Catching Smoke,” is glittering, like a creek on a warm summer day. It’s the closest to sounding like upbeat indie rock, but King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard doesn’t let its music blend with the mainstream and maintains the unique song structures that are quintessential features of the band.
To say the least, the music of Butterfly 3000 is like its name, fluttering around like a mechanically enhanced butterfly. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard has long proven its versatility and ability to master a huge variety of genres, but Butterfly 3000 still manages to push the band’s boundaries further. It’s a feel-good, calm album, but it somehow still makes you think when you manage to snap yourself out of the lulling instrumentals and focus on the lyrics.
Some bands stop while they’re ahead, but King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard has defied all laws of record production to put out yet another excellent album. Though it doesn’t have the frantic bite of the rest of the band’s discography, Butterfly 3000 has plenty of good vibes and love to go around.