With his debut album, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, released when he was just nineteen, King Krule instantly proved himself as a newcomer to watch. With his unique blending of jazz, punk rock and hip hop, the singer/songwriter quickly gained a lot of traction, which he followed up by a more hip hop influenced second album, under his real name Archy Marshall, called A New Place 2 Drown. Together, these two albums built anticipation for what would come next, and after a two year silence, Krule released his most polarising project – The OOZ.
Taking the sound he became famous for – punk rock with light jazz backing interspersed – and flipping it in the opposite direction, this time opting for a trip hop/jazz/post-punk mix, The OOZ tells three stories at once, all revolving around loneliness. Hopping between these three storylines throughout, Krule speaks of a deep sea diver, an astronaut drifting alone through space and a frequently mentioned “bloodsucker”/vampire. Using these three interchanging stories as a jumping point for the overall theme of loneliness, which Krule experienced as he became famous after the release of his first project, finding himself dropped into a new world of touring and meeting thousands of people but never staying anywhere long enough to know them, the album relies on a slow, almost meandering sound, filled with Portishead style drumming, gentle bass playing and, of course, Krule’s trademark deep voice throughout.
Dragging the audience into the murky universe of The OOZ is ‘Biscuit Town’, the album’s opener. Krule sings about being a noirish detective stuck in a town where nothing quite works, discussing a discomfort within his life as a whole, setting up the emotions that will be explored throughout the rest of the record, on the absolutely incredible track ‘Cadet Limbo’, or the wonderfully angry ‘Vidual’. The album’s hour long runtime allows the music to completely take over, as the world presented by Krule becomes progressively larger, but the characters only become more alone, stuck in the centre of a meaningless world.
Thankfully, the versatility of the music ensures that the meandering style never becomes uninteresting, as the album transitions between huge, angry punk, lonely ballads and even some Spanish spoken-word interludes, with this constant shifting in emotion becoming overwhelming. The OOZ is a beautiful, chaotic and sprawling album that maintains a sense of organised chaos thanks to the intricacy of the sounds and the carefully handled story that is subtly used throughout. It’s also an intensely depressing album, one that touches on a harsh feeling of isolation, of self-disgust and self-hatred, whilst containing some of the most dreamy and beautiful sounds imaginable.
Thankfully, Krule seems in a better place after becoming a father, and his third album under the Krule name, Man Alive!, reflects this, presenting a gentle, melancholic view of the world whilst running with the mantra of “You’re not alone” on the song ‘Alone, Omen 3’ and expressing his love for his family on the final track, ‘Please Complete Thee’. It seems that, whilst all three of his albums link together in their own overarching story – one that sees Krule transition from disgraced teenager to a man accepting his place in the world, and using music to spur himself on – The OOZ was really the moment when Krule made use of storytelling to produce one of the most intense album experiences of the last few decades.
The OOZ is available to listen to now via XL Recordings. Check out the lead single, ‘Dum Surfer’, down below.