In between ARIA nominations, AIR Award Wins, building their own studio and curating their own festivals, the always-prolific King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have managed to create an album that stands just as remarkably tall as their previous efforts.

Paper Maché Dream Balloon is King Gizzard’s 7th album in three years. This would still be impressive if they’d settled on a formula and pumped out replicas of ‘Muckracker’ and ‘Head On/Pill’, but they haven’t. Granted, many would still be listening if they had.

With every new release, Gizzard explore new possibilities in music. Whether it be grand stories told through concept albums, experimental instrumentation or an album cut precisely into quarters, every iteration of their output is distinctly different yet exciting and familiar.

With Paper Maché Dream Balloon, frontman Stu Mackenzie has steered the group in a softer, more pastoral direction.

“I wanted to make an album with a collection of short unrelated songs. I wanted to steer away from electric guitar music which I felt like we’d explored pretty heavily on the last couple,” says Mackenzie.

Trust King Gizzard to make an album where the concept is to not have a concept. No electric guitars and no overarching narrative. Got it.

Paper Maché Dream Balloon is, as the cover art suggests, an assortment of bright, folky jams comprised entirely of acoustic instruments. Fiddle, harmonica, clarinet, flute and double bass all feature heavily in the instrumentation along with the acoustic guitars, drums and airy vocals.

It is just familiar enough to maintain a true Gizzard ‘voice’, yet far enough removed from previous releases that it creates a totally new experience for listeners.

Opening track ‘Sense’ is a mid-tempo, suitable-for-dinner-parties melodic dream. The vocals float beautifully between clarinet breaks and over a steady groove while ‘Bone’ picks up the pace with a catchy vocal hook, lilting flute, driving drums and greater guitar presence.

Title track ‘Paper Maché Dream Balloon’ opens like a late 90s Flaming Lips lo-fi psychedelic jam then powers forward into an energetic double tempo dance through the daisies. It is at this point on first listen through the album that you realize King Gizzard have taken their concept-less acoustic album concept very seriously. The melodic maturity and deft arrangement of these songs is truly impressive.

First single ‘Trap Door’ maintains some of the dark, eerie quirkiness of Gizzard past, but never strays into raucous territory. The Jethro Tull-like flute adds to the frenetic drumming while Mackenzie cries ‘everybody knows what’s under the door, and everybody goes to great lengths for sure to hide themselves away and keep the beast at bay’.

[include_post id=”462487″]At four minutes and thirty seconds, side b opener ‘The Bitter Boogie’ is the longest track on the album. A staunch and sleazy blues jam, it sees the band at their most cohesive before another few pearlers in ‘Time = Fate’ and ‘Most Of What I Like’ help to round out this impressive record.

With their stylistic gamble on Paper Maché, it is more blindingly obvious than ever that King Gizzard aren’t a band who pander to fans or the industry at large. Nor should they be. They are seeking to explore music in all its forms and have been afforded the opportunity to do so by devoted fans who believe in their work and evolve with them.

King Gizzard aren’t a band to rest on their laurels. Constantly touring, frequently recording and endlessly pursuing every musical possibility, they are a collective hive of imagination fueled by an obsessive passion to create. What they birth next can never, ever, be foretold.

One thing that can now very safely be assumed, is that whatever comes next is guaranteed to be a departure from the current, an expression of pure musicality free of stylistic restraint, and an inspiration for those who grow tired of the status quo.

So if you don’t like this album, just wait a few weeks and there will probably be another.

Paper Maché Dream Balloon is out Friday the 13th via Flightless/ Remote Control

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