King Krule – The OOZ

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King Krule (Archy Marshall) returns to his unique shade of darkness in a howling third record that becomes an essential of 2017.

 

In 2013, Archy Marshall releases his debut record, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, under the name King Krule to incredibly positive critical reception. Blending aggressive elements of punk with nuanced elements of jazz, Marshall carved a truly unique niche. In 2015, Marshall released his sophomore record A New Place 2 Drown under his birth name, to similar critical fanfare. By 2016, it was clear that Marshall was on the verge of creating some of the most refined, unique, and intense music of the decade. With two albums of material to develop his sound, The OOZ lives up to high expectations, solidifying Marshall's sound and burning with shades of passion and energy unlike any of his previous releases.

The OOZ is undeniably angry. Marshall fights both himself, and his will to live, facing the realities of drug abuse and romantic instability. While he moans with longing for security in love, Marshall is left perpetually, existentially, alone. Grappling with this fact sends Marshall spiraling into a depressive state from which he can’t emerge. As usual, Marshall’s lyrics are provocative and characteristically cryptic, rewarding repeated listens with a greater understanding of the emotional depth this record can offer. Marshall’s obsession with dark, dissonant soundscapes immediately throws the listener into his worn shoes. Repeated plays strap listeners into the rainy repetition of Marshall’s clearly tormented life, making this album rather gripping at times.

This album’s sound falls into a peculiar niche that Marshall creates and continues to define across his albums. Blending noise rock, post punk, trip hop, and jazz, Marshall tells a dark story splattered with shades of blues and greys. The instrumentation on this record is impeccably layered, with just the right amount of sound, every time. Switching back and forth from dense, layered instrumentals, to minimal soundscapes, Marshall knows exactly where each sound is supposed to go. The guitars moan with longing, often sharing notes with Marshall’s equally emotional vocal performances. Following suit, the keyboards range from jazzy Rhodes keyboards to layers of droning synths, a combination of unsettling atmospheres and comfortable jazz chords leaves the listener blindfolded in the back of a car, destination unknown.

Marshall understands how to reach his listeners, contrasting loud with subtle and anguish with hope. “Bermondey Bosom (Right)” followed by “Half Man Half Shark” is an excellent example of the dichotomy that Marshall attempts to illustrate throughout the album. He finds himself caught between two worlds (hope and hopelessness) with each track. Yet, as the record continues, it becomes clear that Marshall finds himself trapped in the latter. Digging himself deeper into despair, Marshall shares tales of childhood torment, past romantic hardship, and a descent into drug dependency. These experiences mold the record into a deeply uncomfortable, intense listening experience.

The OOZ is an essential album. It’s deeply personal, and clearly defines Marshall as the culmination of his experiences, solidifying this record as the most intelligent release in his discography. It discusses his emotional strife, bleeding heart, and drug dependency with an unmatched darkness. Marshall’s unique blend of sounds is genre-defying, in the most powerful way. His lyricism has improved, beyond any reasonable expectation. Marshall’s cryptic lyrics read like poems, meticulously detailing his emotional strife, with an emphasis on repetition and routine to paint his mental picture. Without a doubt this is one of the best albums of the year, expanding the boundaries of the role of the listener. Marshall proves his songwriting chops are a tier above great. Safe to say, this album will be an indie classic for years to come, setting a watermark for achievement in sound and aesthetic design.

Rating: 9.5/10

 

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