Twenty-three-year-old Brit King Krule released his sophomore album on Friday Oct. 13, The OOZ, arriving four years after his first album. This album shows that King Krule has not strayed far from his tried and true soft-grunge roots.
Archy Marshall, who derived his stage name, King Krule, from the Elvis Presley film King Creole, has carved a niche for himself with his distinctive vocals. His first self-titled EP under the Krule moniker, King Krule, was released in 2011 and contained the hit song, “The Noose of Jah City.”
It was immediately clear from this first EP why Marshall distorted an Elvis-inspired name and took it as his own. His reverberated, contemplative croon rocked gently along listless guitars and sparse drums that took this familiar style and settled it beneath a much darker atmosphere.
The lyrics from “The Noose of Jah City,” reinforce this gloom: “The body found and my soul was left to drown, suffocated in concrete, it took a hold of me, put me on repeat.”
Marshall’s first proper album under the King Krule name, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon—released in 2013—followed this same basic formula and peaked at No. 65 on United Kingdom charts. Beyoncé and Earl Sweatshirt praised the young artist’s work—acclaim he was unsurprised to receive.
Perhaps it is this streak of confidence that keeps Marshall from expanding outwardly from his style. The OOZ opens with “Biscuit Town,” a song that seems to explore a lack of fulfillment in mundane relationships. He sings, “You’re shallow waters, I’m the deep seabed, and I’m the reason you flow …” and “need a touch of thought for my libido.” The tone is direct from Marshall’s earlier works and sets the stage for the rest of his new album.
There are a couple of hard-hitting songs on the album that break up the slow tempo and tonal monotony. “Dum Surfer” even has guitar and saxophone solos, however, the most interesting song is the one that doesn’t actually feature Marshall’s hallmark vocals.
“Bermondsey Bosom (Left)” keeps listeners engaged with a soft-spoken woman, Beatriz Ortiz Mendes, reciting a poem in Spanish over light piano and guitar, ending with a repetition of the Spanish translation of the words “parasite” and “paradise.”
Loneliness is a major theme throughout all of Marshall’s songs, which makes sense as his tone evokes the image of a lounge-lizard crooning through the spotlight as the night wears on. It’s clear from his lyrical abstraction and affected vocals that Marshall is singing for nobody but himself.
Emotions run at a low frequency as Marshall explores his isolation and slow-rolling turmoil. The title track has him blatantly asking, “Is anybody out there?”
The first single released, “Czech One,” contrasts Marshall’s vocals against a lullaby electric piano. Insomnia and late-night numbness reverberate through the lyrics.
When asked to explain the album title, Marshall told an NPR reporter that The OOZ represents the raw emotions that seep out of the artist and their surroundings, emotions that they must then render into their work.
Given this portrayal of the creative process as ”ooze,” rather than calling it a rapture, makes sense since album runs at a slow tempo. The album cover features the ground-up perspective of a far-off jet as it slugs across a clear blue sky. The album itself drags on in its near sleep-inducing tempo for a full 66 minutes.
While this slowness can make for a difficult listen at times, not that the album is a total bore. If anything, it demonstrates Marshall’s hyper-focus as an artist. He has selected his topic and style and developed each to the fullest extent.
The OOZ isn’t for everyone, but those that find meaning and solace in Marshall’s brooding persona will be pleased that this album delivers his mind and music at peak maturity.