Album Review: King Krule – The OOZ

By Tanner Bidish, Visual Media Director
[XL; 2017]
Rating: 8/10

Key Tracks: “Locomotive”, “Logos”, “The Cadet Leaps”

Whether he’s recording as Zoo Kid, King Krule or himself, Archy Marshall has earned a reputation for being prolific. At the young age of twenty-three, this puts him in the hot seat for great expectations. The icing on the anticipation cake that is The OOZ is that the new record is his first venture as Krule in four years. The pressure of the album is mounting for fans and music lovers. Here’s a warning: if you’re looking to be disappointed, look elsewhere.

The beats of this album paint a moody portrait. An overcast city. Rainy streets and dark avenues. Hook-ups and depressed folks. The atmosphere of The OOZ is dreary London and its wayward inhabitants. Lyrics on the opener, “Biscuit Town”, go “I think we might be bipolar / I think she thinks I’m bipolar” and “I need a touch of thought for my libido”. Immediately, there’s a taste of ennui that Krule’s latest capitalizes on. Deliberate distortion on tracks like “A Slide In (New Drugs)” reflect the subtly creeping madness of it all. Don’t let that dismiss you! It’s not all tragic ballads. There’s seduction in the ever-pressing bass grooves and in the incorporation of sax. “Bermondsey Bosom (Right)” ties the themes together as, essentially, a poem. It’s all about the love/hate relationship with the city and how that affects a person.

Marshall’s voice, naturally, is the unifying agent. His range and tone are remarkable, and his control and presence on the record are astonishing considering his youth. He has a knack to flip from sensual, to aggressive, then to distant between tracks. His growl and mumble – that are so characteristically King Krule – are at home in melody and rap. He haunts each track like a disturbed spirit, gliding through the story of a song, never outstaying his welcome but occasionally lashing out.

The flexibility of Marshall’s voice extends to the sound and production of the record. He tows the line between R&B, soul, and pop. There’s a drift towards hip-hop on “The Locomotive”, and a heavy swing at Britpop in “Emergency Blimp” and “Vidual”. “Half Man Half Shark” has, perhaps, the greatest integration of clashing styles. It’s an intense mix of sounds, pulling funky bass riffs that culminate with aggressive rock choruses. However, both are laid to rest in favor of a soulful piano outro.

The ending stretch of the album feels more like a movement than a handful of tracks. From the ambient depression of “The Cadet Leaps” to the wistfully gentle guitar licks on “La Lune”, the end of The OOZ eases the listener out of the album’s headspace, but not without leaving the major themes echoing eerily in their ears. Existential loneliness, empathy, the city’s allure. King Krule takes on all of it and exposes the comfort in a shared dread.

Listen here:

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