King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – ‘Eyes Like The Sky’ Album Review
Coming six months after their much-lauded debut album, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard follow up Eyes Like The Sky with something that, according to it’s press release at least; isn’t really a follow up. It’s billed instead as a ‘Spaghetti Western Audiobook’, with narration from Broderick Smith.
The former Dingoes frontman and King Gizzard harp-wailer Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s father spins a short narrative about a young apache, hardened by the violence and cruelty of the American-Mexican border around the time of the country’s Civil War.
If it weren’t for him being an apache, it would sound exactly like the premise to Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. And, along with the film scores of Ennio Morricone, the films of Quentin Tarantino and video game Red Dead Redemption, to McCarthy’s blood-soaked poetry does this ‘audiobook’ owe its ‘vibe’.
And the vibe is fun. On opener ‘Eyes Like The Sky’, King Gizzard launch into a rousing rendition of the first ‘western guitar riff’ that pops into your head. There are guitar rushes which recall wind-swept expanses; percussion which crashes like a desert storm. Stu Mackenzie’s guitar squeals and screeches just like Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer’s does. It’s plenty enjoyable to listen to.
The story isn’t as interesting as Smith’s thick, crackling drawl, but it has its moments. The young Apache who earns the title ‘Eyes like the Sky’ “learns the white man’s ways” and conveniently becomes a badass gunslinger a little too quickly during ‘Fort Whipple’. Similarly, on ‘Evil Man’, a bible-toting Northerner is asserted as the story’s antagonist, but is dealt with without much consequence shortly thereafter.
On ‘Dust in the Wind’ however, Smith’s depictions of violence and death are entrancing, as are the barrelling drums and terse guitars. It’s when the album-as-audiobook premise earns its stripes. It’s a good climax, and proves the young band are apt enough to have a career in film-scoring just as much as it proves Smith could make a generous living narrating endless gritty audiobooks.
Eyes like the Sky is a cool idea. A Spaghetti Western Rock and Roll Audiobook, arriving just after Django Unchained turned everyone back on to westerns (shame on you if you were ever turned off them). It’s kitschy sure, and you can’t imagine any of these songs making their way onstage. Nor, unfortunately, can you imagine Eyes like the Sky garnering too many repeated listens.
Despite the wealth of creativity, on music alone the album essentially repeats the same song ten times. Similarly, without any tracks having sung vocals, there’s no chance for songs to find a lasting place in the band’s live set; diminishing the album’s longevity. But none of that shit matters, man. It’s a rock and roll audiobook with apaches and guns and horses and blood and death and shit. It’s cool.