Album of the Week: “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Being ugly doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. And in the case of album covers, ugliness can transform itself into an asset. It’s different — even unique — for an art form to be purposefully visually repulsive. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” is a perfect example of art being so bad that it’s almost good. With its contrasting light and dark visuals, bright colors, and choice of demonic imagery, the story the album cover paints aligns with the technical guitar solos, passionate vocals, and poetic lyricism of the music it’s meant to represent.
An Australian rock band from Melbourne, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard has been releasing music since 2010. The band has six members — Stu Mackenzie, Ambrose Kenny-Smith, Cook Craig, Joey Walker, Lucas Harwood, and Michael Cavanagh — who contribute either vocal or instrumental talent to the band’s music. With 24 albums total, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is not new to exploring various musical genres ranging from psychedelic rock, garage rock, and surf music to heavy metal, progressive rock, and synth-pop. “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz,” released on Halloween in 2014, is one of the band’s earlier albums. The album’s tracklist comprises a blend of psychedelic and garage rock, with all the songs written entirely by the band’s very own Stu Mackenzie. Unlike the first edition of Ugly Album Covers, Good Songs, I’ll be analyzing the symbolism behind the various components of the album cover in alignment with the songs.
Arguably the most shocking aspect of the album cover upon first glance is the bright green and red imagery atop a dark and smokey black background. This eye-catching visual not only creates a bizarrely striking contrast that contributes to the ugliness of the album design, but also foreshadows the contents of the album. Similar to the juxtaposition of light and dark on the cover, much of the music consists of loud guitar solos, raspy vocals, and an eerie undertone, yet soft and gentle lyrics. Upon listening to the words of the songs, it’s clear that the message the band is conveying is anything but dark. With lyrics such as “I’ll fill her heart with a lot of love / so the sun can shine a little brighter” from the song “Her and I (Slow Jam 2),” the album tells a story of immense love and deep romance. Through the use of an unconventional musical genre as a vessel for romantic poetry, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard reflects the same light-dark contrast present on the visual representation of their album in the contents of the album itself.
Another ugly aspect of the album cover is the giant hand emitting a green glow and grabbing towards a castle upon a mountain. After analyzing the lyricism of the album, the hand gains meaning. More than just a glowing green appendage, the hand is symbolic of the overwhelming embrace of love — so forceful in its engulfment that it continuously expands until it has captured every part of one’s life. Even the title of the album itself, “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz,” is illustrative of love’s ability to take over one’s mind, consciousness, and thusentire being. While the hand is inarguably visually unappealing and plays a part in the ugliness of the album cover, its relation to the theme of the album secures its contribution to the goodness of the songs.
The last part of the album cover I’d like to discuss is the two alien-esque satanic figures on either side of the hand. Unlike the hand, which symbolizes thematic aspects of the lyricism, I interpret the two bright red figures to be indicative of the musical genre of the album. Much like the figures, the instrumentals of the album are dark, eerie, and a little bit uncomfortable. I can’t figure out what, exactly, I’m listening to (hence the alien nature of the figures). And I’m also a little scared for some reason (hence the satanic resemblance).
“I’m In Your Mind Fuzz” by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is an album about love. But more than just love, it’s an album about fear — fear of love’s power. A fear of love’s imbuement into every aspect of one’s life. This theme of two opposing forces — love and fear — being intertwined emotions is reflected in the juxtaposition between the romantic lyricism and eerie instrumentals of the songs, which in turn is reflected in the contrasting visuals of the album cover. Thus, this week’s edition of Ugly Album Covers, Good Songs, is meant to relay a message for the people: if you look hard enough, you will find meaning in every mundane detail of your life, even an ugly album cover.