By Thomas Johnson, October 31, 2017 —
Your mind can be a dangerous place to be lost in. Too much time trapped between your thoughts can render even the hardest men to tapioca. The notion that the darkest path snakes inward sits at the gloomy centre of The OOZ, the first album from King Krule (née Archie Marshall) in over four years. It’s a screwball collection of intangible grotesqueries and ideas that intermingle and bump against each other, rather than properly fleshing themselves out. It’s an unsettling record to be sure, but underneath its blight lies stark moments of brutal honesty and an unfamiliar serenity.
With an auspicious 67-minute runtime, The OOZ unfurls in a dreamlike trance from the depths of Krule’s subconscious, complete with all the insecurities and fears that hide from the sun in the damp recess of ones dormant psyche.
6 Feet Beneath The Moon, Marshall’s first album as King Krule, was a gothic collection of dive-bar ballads and haunted soliloquies. Marshall’s resonant voice — a hollow, anemic foghorn— whirled through the album’s chasms and filled its voids with a different sort of emptiness. In the same vein as Tom Waits, the protagonists of his songwriting were sad-sack types and bruised romantics. With The OOZ,
Marshall’s despondency has imploded, and his melancholia has turned inward.
His musings compound as the album goes on. By its final quarter, it becomes almost uncomfortable in its nakedness. Behind Marshall’s eyelids, his spirit festers in profound isolation and heavy-hearted loneliness. One of the premier songwriters of his generation, he can weave references from all walks. The eclecticism of his ruminations point towards the mind of a restless polymath, a creative wunderkind with an imagination that spans far beyond the parameters of simple indie rock.
Throughout the 19 tracks, hints of Marshall’s discography sit beside quotes from The Sopranos, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s theme music and Greek astronomy theories. These, coupled with a croak that sounds as if it were scraped from a whiskey barrel, make the King Krule of The OOZ one of the more enthralling characters in recent memory.
Archie Marshall’s greatest trick is trying to draw a separation between himself and King Krule. Somewhere in the murk, the former and latter homogenized into a single hapless phantom. The OOZ is many things — sprawling, dense, difficult, poetic, heartbreaking and maybe even a little pretentious. But above all, it is a remarkable record. In losing himself to introversion, that phantom has brought his singular vision to life.