Petrifyingly in-form once more, workhorse Australian rock group King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard knock down the door of good style once more with The Silver Cord. Their electronic push on this – their second record of the year – is a clear step down from PetroDragonic Apocalypse, but the two pieces feel so wildly separated. They cover the same ground and troubles as Pet Shop Boys here, who are in the business of extended mixes and the shorter versions sound far stronger. A half-hour is turned into two hours, and these are the spoils of such a decision. Not the best by a long shot, the blast-off relevancy of Theia is a welcome and wild change of pace – but it does not mean it is the right fit when it comes to sci-fi-influenced pieces.
Even with the middle-of-the-road style this opening track brings, it is hard to knock the bleed it has into title track The Silver Cord. Not as momentous or space-thrillingly oriented as it should be but a certain step toward this dream of electro-house success. Pacing themselves well with Set gives little away – and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard still find themselves drifting as they run toward the extended versions. Little slip-ups of PetroDragonic Apocalypse theme is sprinkled through – occasionally rearing its head before the boy band-like experience of Chang’e. Taking so long to pick up the pace and still obsessed with scaled creatures of legend, King Gizzard pumps the brakes too often. Gilgamesh is a slog and Swan Song has moments of real potential to it, squandered by the vocal interjections.
Sharper instrumentals and electronic sections would see this over the line, but it was not to be. As the band awkwardly shuffle to elongate their own songs just moments later on the extended mix run, it becomes clear there is very little difference. It is not a copy-and-paste job but it may as well be. A twenty-minute snooze of a time on Theia is hard to stomach, though it gets much tougher the longer the album goes on. The Silver Cord, extended or not, sounds like an embarrassing Terraria soundtrack reject. King Gizzard are rarely ever associated with musical log jams, but this extended mixture, an elongation of tracks not entirely great to begin with, is a slog. It works when smaller pockets of a longer song are taken, the remix of an original is always a great place to start, but something is lost on The Silver Cord.
Having a sleep and giving it another go does little to strengthen The Silver Cord. Its extended mixes are a taxing listen – not because they are lengthy but because for the time they take to present the neat hooks and tightly wound electronics – it never feels like anything more than box-checking. This is the sad state of an excellent band sticking their hand in a new pot without much planning. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard still come through with some interesting tracks but the middle-of-the-road neutrality to a lot of these songs is something which cannot help but be compared to the vicious and excellent tracks which preceded it on PetroDragonic Apocalypse just some months ago.