King Krule’s The OOZ is a Genre-Blurring Masterpiece

In October, British singer/songwriter Archy Marshall released his second full album as King Krule. Marshall’s latest work builds on the unique, genre-bending sounds of 2013’s 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, and 2015’s A New Place to Drown (released under his own name). The OOZ, Marshall’s new album is a captivating and dark blend of trip-hop, modern jazz, indie rock, and punk, that could best be described as simply “alternative”. It is devoid of hooks, instead favoring bizarre melodies to compliment murky product and avant-garde songwriting; essentially indie rock songs made out of jazz chords. Out of all of this, Marshall crafts a compelling and unique musical space, allowing a glimps into his own mind and experiences.

the20ooz_king20kruleThe OOZ is thoroughly bizarre, almost alien. Marshall has an affinity for jazz chords, which gives depth and complexity to his otherwise simple songwriting. But Marshall’s chords come off as more jagged than in jazz, often creating a slightly punk-esque sound. The sparseness of the arrangements encourages the album’s mellow vibe, and Marshall’s guitar is just gentle enough to add another layer without detracting from the overall mood. Instead of using pop hooks, Marshall opts for unusual, yet minimalist melodies, abandoning the standard major and minor triad for accidentals and modal scale. These unconventional melodies are a safe choice for Marshall’s raw, droning baritone, which is certainly not aided by his punk-esque delivery, which is often unintelligible when combined with his thick London accent, ultimately creating a vocal style that perfectly captures the angst and confusion of his music.

The OOZ features some of Marshall’s best songwriting and arranging to date. “Dum Surfer”’s dark, off-kilter energy perfectly emulates the drug-filled haze of a unfulfilling late night. While the chord progression is simple enough, the song is not: major seventh chords on guitar contrast with minor harmonies from the saxophones, and they both feel almost out of sync with the drums. This tension is the perfect backdrop for Marshall’s almost zombie-ish droning and shouts (just look at the music video).
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Marshall’s lyrics are introspective and both abstract and straightforward. Take “Biscuit Town,” a song packed with figurative language and multiple meanings, describing an interaction he had with a girl in his hometown of Bermondsey (in London). It is sometimes blunt and straightforward, sometimes abstract and metaphorical, and sometimes both at the same time; as well as being dark and confessional.

While this indie jazz-punk sound may not seem too compelling on paper, Marshall has the skill and creativity to execute it beautifully. Marshall perfectly captures his inner feelings of doubt and gloom in every aspect of his music, creating a moody, dark, and tired vibe that perfectly emulates his unfulfilling late nights and inner turmoil. The complex yet minimalist sound doesn’t crowd the listener, but gives them specific moods they cannot escape, allowing them to climb inside Marshall’s mind and spend an hour or so in his shoes. Overall, The OOZ is an exceptional piece of personal music, signifying an impressive next step for the promising artist.

Images: Pitchfork, The Guardian

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Sam Seliger

16 year old guitarist, singer, songwriter, and documentarian from Columbia, Maryland.

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