King Krule - The OOZ

by Jon Burke Rating:8 Release Date:2017-10-13
King Krule - The OOZ
King Krule - The OOZ

Something is wrong with Archy Marshall. I don’t mean that statement as judgement but, instead, as a kind of critical diagnosis. Marshall’s new album, The OOZ, released under his King Krule moniker, feels like a bizarre nightclub jazz take on darkwave-post-punk-hip-hop. While there’s an undeniably Mancunian, industrial rhythm to most of the songs, at times the machined beats seem to break down or, worse, simply slough-off… The ooz(e) is all consuming.

Marshall’s vocals resemble the passionate nihilism of a drunken Nick Cave performing the last set of his career aboard the sinking Titanic. And, most confounding, all of this messy sound seems to be quite intentional and brilliantly arranged. It’s a completely self-indulgent record but I mean that in the best sense of the term. It’s as if Marshall has decided to vivisect himself for listeners and then sing a song about each organ as he removes it.

Marshall’s latest single, “Dum Surfer,” serves as a perfect sonic encapsulation of the power of The OOZ. The track opens with a moaning sound and a simple beat. Then, in his lowest register, Marshall grunts:

“Dumb surfer is giving me his cash/ Won a bet for fifty and now I need a slash/ Man this band that's playing, is playing fucking trash/ Skunk and onion gravy, as my brain's potato mash”

It’s spooky, darkly cynical and somehow incredibly compelling. The overall effect is a bit like Paul Simonon singing a chopped and screwed-up lullaby with lyrics by Irvine Welsh. Certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but given the sheer length and scope of the album there’s a lot to love on The OOZ.

Though The OOZ’s nineteen tracks do offer a little bloat, they also offer a real array of Archy Marshall’s range. From the album’s opener “Biscuit Town,” a sneering, shuffling, jazz hustle evoking all the femme fatale vibes of a Sam Spade novel, to the cockney Serge Gainsbourg amour fou of “La Lune” to the galloping raw brutality of “Half Man Half Shark” – Archy Marshall left no feelings on the cutting room floor. It’s all here, brutal emotional honesty, its warty underbelly exposed for the world to see and that’s part of what makes The OOZ so interesting –Archy Marshall isn’t afraid of being ugly at the expense of being honest.

There are going to be some tracks you skip (“The Cadet Leaps”) and also going to be some tracks you play ad nausea (“Emergency Blimp”) but, my guess is, though you might not always listen to The OOZ from front to back, most of these songs will end up on mixtapes and playlists and movie soundtracks for the foreseeable future. There is just too much interesting meat on these sickly bones for The OOZ to be ignored.

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