The Murlocs — King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and Cook Craig with Cal Shortal, Matt Mlach and Tim Karmouche — have released four albums of fuzzy and distorted psychedelic blues that the band has supported both as an opener for the likes of Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and of course, Kenny-Smith’s and Craig’s primary gig,. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and as a headliner.
The Aussie psych blues outfit’s fifth album. the Tim Dunn-produced Bittersweet Demons is slated for a June 25, 2021 release through their longtime label home ATO Records. Recorded at Button Pushers Studio, the 11-song album finds the band lovingly reflecting on the people, who have left a profound imprint on their lives, the saviors, the hell racists and other assorted mystifying characters. Arguably, the most personal and complex batch of material they’ve written to date, the album reportedly finds the band bouncing around and between sunny pop, blues punk and wide-eyed psychedelia informed by John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band and Harry Nilsson’s Lennon-produced Pussy Cats.
Bittersweet Demons first single “Francesca” was written by the band’s Tim Karmouche — and sonically, finds the band crafting a rousingly upbeat, hook-driven ripper that subtly adds a New Wave polish to the fuzzy psych rock barnburners that have won them national and international attention. To my ears, the members of The Murlocs have managed to write a road trip anthem that’s arena rock friendly. “The song is about my mother, and show she had been lost for love since the separation from my father, when I was, 10,” Kenny-Smith explains in press notes. “In the last year and a half or so, she’s found love again, with a very close family friend of ours, someone, who has always been a godfather and mentor to me in many ways. This has changed her spirit immensely for the better. You can really see the pop in her step as this enormous weight has been lifted off her shoulders.”
Kenny-Smith mentions that some of his favorite songs are odes to impressive women — i.e. Van Morrison’s “Gloria” — and says, “Francesca is my mother’s middle name and I’ve always loved it so much.” The Murlocs frontman adds “It’s probably the most positive, feel-good song we’ve ever done. It’s also the closest we’ve ever come to having an 80’s phase.”
Directed by Alex Mclaren, the recently released video for “Francesca” was shot last April. Melbourne was coming out of its first pandemic-related lockdown and restrictions were eased for a short period of time. The band and director quickly jumped on the opportunity to shoot while they had the chance, presumably recognizing that they may not get another chance. And for such an 80’s-like anthem, the video features the titular Francesca, Kenny-Smith and the band driving around in a convertible and rocking out, as well as 80’s computerized graphics and fade outs. The car footage was shot on Melbourne’s Ivanhoe Blvd., near where Kenny-Smith’s mom grew up. That part of the footage was informed by the video for Randy Newman’s “I Love LA.”