That said, the benefit of traveling without a roadmap is that you can wind up in some delightfully unexpected places. After teasing his flow on Butterfly 3000’s “Killer Year 2.02,” Kenny-Smith steps out as the band’s resident MC on two hip-hop-rooted cuts, “Sadie Sorceress” and “The Grim Reaper.” And the transition into King Gizzy & the Leezy Weezy proves surprisingly smooth: The band finds its natural funky footing in the sort of weed-hazed sampledelic grooves favored by early-’90s Beastie Boys, Avalanches, and Edan, while Kenny-Smith’s breathless brat-rap treatises about witches and grim reapers (complemented by vocal snippets of his 97-year-old grandmother) fit squarely within the group’s established parameters of apocalyptic prophecy and brain-scrambling absurdity.
If Omnium Gatherum is a crazy quilt by design, it’s ultimately threaded together by some of the Gizzard’s most sumptuous songcraft to date—not to mention the band’s ever-colorful ways of telling us that the Earth is fucked. The piano-twinkled soul-jazz of “Kepler-22b” provides the lustrous backdrop to Mackenzie’s stargazing fantasy of moving to the namesake planet to get away from this one, while guitarist Joey Walker’s dreamy quiet-storm bass-slapper “Ambergris” speaks of oceanic waste from the perspective of a whale who’d rather be harpooned than live its life swimming through the murk. (That said, no poetic license was required for “Evilest Man,” a giddy swirl of jaunty sunshine-soul, Kraftwerkian synth clusters, and interstellar guitar noise wherein Mackenzie cheerfully assails the most insidious Australia-bred pollutant on our planet—i.e., Rupert Murdoch.)
If the sheer abundance of songs, styles, and lyrical concepts on Omnium Gatherum is indicative of a band that never takes a break, the album also shows that the least these dudes can do is take a break from being themselves. And for around four minutes, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard ease off the doomscrolling psychedelia and subversive soft rock to deliver “Persistence,” a joyous folk-funk shuffle that proves Kevin Parker hasn’t cornered the Aussie market on breezy, beach-bound jams. It may seem odd that an album that begins with an epic 18-minute assault on oil addiction also yields a car-fetishizing pop song where Mackenzie celebrates his (ahem) stamina by comparing his performance to “a Ford motor piston.” But as Mackenzie assures us, he’s got “no want for gas/I run on love”—a line that applies as much to his endurance in his band as in his bed. After all, you can’t make 20 albums in a decade without a lot of love for what you do, and—in lieu of any other unifying principle—Omnium Gatherum proves King Gizzard still have a whole lot of it left in the tank.