The Ooz is the second record by King Krule, a moniker used by 23-year-old Londoner Archy Marshall. The record continues on from 2013’s 6 Feet Beneath the Moon by diving further down the rabbit hole of Marshall’s adventures and tales of love in the big smoke. On The Ooz Marshall hands over meaning and sense to the the listener as the album’s 19 tracks blur together in a world of hazy escapism. Boundaries and structure is ignored as Marshall takes musical strolls through jazz, grime, doo-wop and surf-punk, all punctuated by his soulful blues tones, garage spittal and stream-of-consciousness poetry.
The album begins with a noir tale about Biscuit Town, on which Marshall concedes “I think we might be bipolar, I think she thinks I’m bipolar”, admitting that we are in the midst of the artist’s disorganised mind. Elsewhere songs appear, or simply disappear, such as out of tune rocker Emergency Blip or The Locomotive, a spacey rock number that lurches and sputters along, at times threatening to rock out, at other times falling apart and leaving just Marshall’s vocals and dub beats. In a kind of contrast, Dum Surfer and Half Man Half Shark, offer relatively straight-ahead missives, recalling The Specials with their surf-ska-jazz guitars and saxophones.
Marshall’s love songs lie in a murky jazz cellar of slower numbers. Here we find Cadet Limbo, a wobbly space-echo tape number which would not sound completely out of place on a Mac DeMarco record. Lonely Blue, a detuned ode to breaking up, is also in this bracket, with Marshall placing lyrics from Bille Holliday’s Lover Come Back to Me incongruently against his own “so please don’t let go of our kingdom of trash, I got high off butane, I was born amidst a wrath”.
Further down the love path, there is the beautiful Czech One, where Marshall examines his relationships in the settings of urban decay and similarly, Logos is effective with its dirty tales about broken homes, bookie shops, smoke and cologne mixed together, as Marshall eeks out his love of the everyday into a poetic existence; “we were soup together, but now it’s cold / we glue together, but it weren’t to hold / Her solvents dissolved.”
Given Marshall’s prodigal talent and bluesy rawness, it’s easy to imagine an updated version of rock and roll’s tallest tale; Marshall meeting the devil at the crossroads of the high street and council estate in exchange for a sequencer and an eighth. And at this stage of his career, it would appear Marshall is making the most of this trade off, albeit, in his own languid and hazy way.