Apparently, even someone as industrious as Cook Craig needs a solo outlet. And so the guitarist, who plays in both King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and sibling band The Murlocs, devotes himself to Pipe-Eye when he finds the time, reliably issuing a release every couple years since 2015.
You need not have heard Pipe-Eye’s first two releases, or even Craig’s regular bands, to immediately grasp the project’s vibe. As introduced by ‘Agincourt Bay’, Pipe-Eye’s second album showcases gooey bubblegum softened and warmed by the sun. That familiar sound carries over from 2015’s appropriately trippy Cosmic Blip EP as well as from the psychedelic interludes and mind-bending guitar-pop of 2017’s Laugh About Life, but Inside/Outside is even more effortlessly catchy and deliriously appealing.
While Craig still flexes his dank, cyclical riffing against the soggy synth funk of glassy instrumental ‘1866’ and the dog-themed ‘Best Friend’, this record lets him focus more on sloshing keyboards and synths, wide-eyed choruses, cloud-capped vocal harmonies and mellowed drums. Case in point: ‘Fluorescent Wonder’ stokes its laughing-gas haze with lyrics about “multi-coloured rows of endlessness”. Even the low-stakes instrumentals (‘Turn the Page’, ‘Best Party Ever’ and giddy drum workout ‘Room With a View’) radiate aw-shucks charm. As for the pair of loving odes to drinking, ‘Brown Bottle’ channels Harry Nilsson’s faux-calypso lark ‘Coconut’ and ‘Tequila Highball’ is probably the closest Pipe-Eye has come to King Gizzard’s skewed and layered headiness.
Between its shrugged-off intimacy and overflowing affection for candy-striped ’60s psych, Inside/Out makes for a snug bookend with Traffik Island’s Nature Strip, also released by King Gizzard’s in-house label Flightless. ‘Farmer Barnaby’ opens with a wobbly melody like that of a warped music box before slipping into jazzy lounge-pop, while ‘Night Drive’ floats on similarly childlike melodies and ‘Unto the Breach’ plays like a particularly floaty Flaming Lips deep cut.
As you might expect from a prolific musician’s side musings, these are affectionate experimentations wrought in miniature. Yet as much as Craig already gets to change gears from album to album thanks to King Gizzard’s cross-genre appetites, Pipe-Eye shows off another welcome dimension to his dogged tunefulness. It may be low-key by comparison, but Inside/Out boasts enough pillowy earworms to make us wish he had more time to devote to this stuff. - Doug Wallen