written by: Melissa Dalarossa
Four years after releasing his breakthrough album Six Feet Under the Moon, singer and rapper Archy Marshall is back with another musical journey. Under the alias King Krule, he released The OOZ, a strong follow up that further establishes him as a vocally unique and self-possessed musician.
The OOZ takes us through the grit and chaos of the city, the bleak depths of the sea, and the overwhelming vastness of outer space. Each location exacerbates the feeling of loneliness and hopelessness that Krule croons and spits about on his endeavor. With powerful motifs such as the ocean, the moon, and the color blue, Krule further develops the themes of his previous works. However, this album manages to deliver a more complex and mature sound, offering a cohesiveness that its predecessors lacked.
The sultry opening track, “Biscuit Town,” touches on mental illness and dreams deferred, anchored by a thumping beat that gives way to woozy guitars and a sluggish tempo in “The Locomotive”. Krule reflects on the pervasive evil of humanity while waiting for the train, singing:
We all have our evils
We’re told just to keep calm
Curled up and feeble
Plagued by our brains, the internal sinking pain
It is these kinds of dark, futile daydreams that Krule says The OOZ is focused on. He told NPR that, “…the record’s kind of about the monotony of day to day. Falling back into your head, being taken with your thoughts into a different place… it’s kind of about refining the subconscious creations that you do constantly.”
In Krule’s case, these “subconscious creations” manifest themselves through grim and unsettling imagery that, although familiar, is far darker than that of Six Feet Beneath the Moon. On “Logos,” among swirling synths and saxophones that play up the rough jazz he dabbles in on his debut album, he intones, “I caught my mum, she stumbles home/Through open ground, back to broken homes”. The song “Emergency Blimp” recalls a grittier, more frenzied “1979,” featuring a “sniggering” doctor who prescribes sleeping pills that do nothing to cure Krule’s insomnia.
These bleak, episodic portrayals of “everyday” life make up the majority of the album. The idea of an inescapable solitude is seemingly the foundation of The OOZ’s tracks. Krule’s signature baritone swings between desperate and jaded as he contemplates his utterly hopeless situation. However, there are moments of tender heartache that punctuate the stark pessimism, like on “La Lune,” a stripped down and soft-spoken track: “See I was raised to the moon/Just to hold a gaze with you” sings Krule. Additionally, on “Lonely Blue,” a heavy, winding track, you can just hear him murmur, “The sky was blue/And high above the moon was new/This eager heart of mine was singing lover come back to me/Lover, lover come back to me.”
The OOZ is unforgiving and unrelenting, bathed in a cold, blue light that illuminates only unending pain and despair. But it is also a display of all the best in Krule, who takes his raw talent and refines it to deliver a work rich in texture and cryptic lyricism. Whether he’s singing about lost love or about crippling bouts of loneliness, floating through space or stumbling through the city, Krule maintains a focus that drives forward his most powerful work yet.