Title: Butterfly 3000
Artist: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Genre: Psychedelic Pop / Synth Pop
Released: 11 June 2021
4. Blue Morpho
5. Interior People
6. Catching Smoke
7. 2.02 Killer Year
8. Black Hot Soup
9. Ya Love
10. Butterfly 3000
KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD
"Undergoing complete metamorphous
From a moth caterpillar to chrysalis
Spinning in a silken house, like a spider spins a web
I'm a well-known insect"
Ever since their formation in 2010, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have been a band determined to be included in every single genre listing on Wikipedia. While they established their foundations in the Australian psych-rock scene of the 2010s, they’ve since branched out to explore anywhere from smooth jazz, to boogie, and even thrash metal. Across 17 studio albums, as well as various EPs and live records, they’ve become notorious for shapeshifting into whatever style they see fit, while simultaneously adding their signature flare into the mix. Most recently, the band underwent their lengthiest detour yet, delivering the second and third instalments in their microtonal experimentation series. And while these were decent projects, they also felt the most stagnant in Gizz’s discography. “K.G.” stood nicely on its own, but by the time its sister album, “L.W.” was released, many of the tracks felt like B-sides from a style that the band had run dry of inspiration. But only a few short months after the release of “L.W.”, King Gizzard’s 18th studio album has been released; “Butterfly 3000”, and it has the group returning to what they do best; taking their unique sound and mingling it with an entirely new genre of music.
For a band with 18 albums, each exploring different styles and sounds, even the most die-hard fan is going to lean much further into certain parts of their discography than others. And that’s more apparent than ever with “Butterfly 3000”. From what I’ve heard, this is the most polarizing record the band have put out so far, with many people not being won over by the group’s change of pace. This time around, they’ve put down their guitars and instead constructed an album deriving from an assembly of looping modular synthesisers. And while remnants of microtonal music can be found from time to time within “Butterfly 3000”, this is an album that has instead been firmly rooted within major scales. In the process, it feels far more light-hearted and jubilant than anything that King Gizzard have put out so far, even more so than the boogie-centric “Fishing for Fishies”, or the cheerful “Paper Mache Dream Balloon”. I can see why many people haven’t liked the direction the band have gone with “Butterfly 3000”; Lead singer Stu Mackenzie’s vocals have really taken a backseat this time around, even feeling entirely absent at points. Instead, the album is far more focused on creating interweaving and developing soundscapes, which reflect a variety of moods rather than concrete lyrical themes. On top of this, there isn’t a whole lot of leading-single potential on the record, with many of the tracks not standing that firmly on their own (the album was even released without any prior promotional singles). But while “Butterfly 3000’s” songs lack the complexity and individuality of some of their previous work, in the words of Marge Simpson; “I just think they’re neat”.
This is by no means one of King Gizzard’s stronger releases. For one thing, it’s difficult for me to properly remember how many of the songs go, even after multiple close listens to the album. And while there are some clear highlights on here, such as Shanghai’, ‘Interior People’, or ‘Catching Smoke’, much of “Butterfly 3000” feels quite blurry and indistinct. But somehow, despite this, it’s also effortlessly charming. While I don’t have the same connection to each and every song on here like I do with “Infest the Rats Nest”, or “Nonagon Infinity”, every time I’ve put “Butterfly 3000” on, it’s left me with a warm and bubbly feeling for long after it’s finished. There’s an intoxicating sense of positivity surrounding every composition here, and this is likely due to the fact that the album is determined to stick to playing in major scales. This is likely a blessing and a curse for the record; it can sometimes make “Butterfly 3000” feel slightly one-dimensional, but it’s also the distinctive feature of the album. It’s what holds each of the tracks together, creating something cohesive and fluid. And while many of the songs are fairly underwhelming on their own, each of them plays a larger role in the grander scheme of “Butterfly 3000”.
Like many of King Gizzard's albums now, “Butterfly 3000” continues the trend of having one song seamlessly transition into the next. They began to explore this quite heavily in “Nonagon Infinity”, where the entire album could be placed on an infinite loop, but have since incorporated it more discretely, with many of the tracks from “K.G.” and “L.W.” also bridging their own gaps. It’s designed to give the albums a live-performance-like quality, and often works well in that regard. However, it can also have the effect of making the record feel blurred, and lacking in definition, which was the case for some of the material on “L.W.”. And although “Butterfly 3000” technically falls into this same pit, it somehow actually works to its benefit. The album is built around slowly shifting synthesiser lines, which purposefully make only slight adjustments between and throughout tracks. This forms a nice continuity throughout “Butterfly”, and although it comes at the compromise of having the borders of certain songs feeling vague, it also makes the album feel far more consequential, and greater than the sum of its parts.
While there are some clearly weak songs on here (‘2.02 Killer Year’ and ‘Black Hot Soup’ in particular being amongst Gizz’s most unmemorable offerings yet), this is a commendable effort from the group, when simply viewed as a 43-minute exercise in electronic music. The closer you look, the more cracks are going to form. But from a distance, it’s an extremely pleasant listening experience, with a few nice highlights. It almost fits as the final piece of ‘positive’ sounding King Gizzard albums, alongside “Paper Mache Dream Balloon” and “Fishing for Fishies”. And although both of those are clearly stronger records (to me at least), “Butterfly 3000” is still a really cute addition to their discography. I really hope that the band continue their streak of genre-exploration from here, as another modular synth album would likely outstay its welcome. However, as it is, “Butterfly 3000” is a wonderful little deviation for the band, and one that will hopefully receive more retrospective love in the coming years. For a band as prolific as King Gizzard, we most likely won’t have to wait too long before they announce their next musical escapade. But until then, I’m still holding out for that Gizz ska record.
"Bye-bye, Shanghai, I've become a butterfly
Born again overnight
Bye-bye, Shanghai, bye-bye, my life
Born again overnight"
Reviewed by Layton Bryce - 05/07/2021
23/7/21, 9:43 am
such a wonderful, passionate review 🤍
15/7/21, 8:01 am
so proud of u, such a great and succinct review xo
15/7/21, 7:57 am
9/7/21, 11:54 am
what an incredible review!! one of my favourites of the year 🥰💓
5/7/21, 2:29 am
another wonderful review!!! x
3/7/21, 7:03 am
another great review from my favourite music reviewer🤍🤍🤍
3/7/21, 6:48 am
YEEESSSS I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on My Love Is Cool, one of my faves album EVER
3/7/21, 6:46 am
One day I'm gonna have to listen to all these albums because of all these great reviews! Can't wait for a Hamilton or Frozen review...??? 👀👀👀 Maybe a cheeky Bo Burnham review????
1/7/21, 6:42 am
YES!!! COMMENTS AND BACK!!!! HOW DID THIS SMART MAN DO IT???!!!
1/7/21, 6:40 am
yay!! comments are back!! love this review, and you!🤍