King Krule - The OOZ Album Review
Despite the tendency to push genre boundaries within indie rock, often times stylistic choices spread like wildfire throughout the genre with few artists looking to make any attempt to put them out. Whether it be the indie folk craze of the mid-to-late 2000s or the quirky synth-tinged indie pop of the early 2010s, few music scenes suck all possible creativity out of a sound until it’s a lifeless carcass like post 2000 indie rock music.
Recently, that dominating sound in the indie rock scene has been the heavily Mac Demarco-influenced surf rock and jangle pop that has pushed many college aged millennials to cuff their jeans, buy overpriced “vintage” Champion and Tommy Hilfiger clothing and take up smoking cigarettes despite the wishes of modern medical science.
Enter King Krule, stage name for 22-year-old English singer/songwriter Archy Marshall, and his sophomore album The OOZ. While at first the conventions of the beloved surf rock and jangle pop sound can be heard as a foundation for the opening songs of The OOZ such as “Slush Puppy” and “Logos,” a grimy sludge begins to seep from the depths of the record, engulfing each track with a thick atmosphere of deprivation and desperation. Nu-jazz horns and trip-hop beats begin to morph the commercially friendly sound into a jazz-fusion and art rock masterpiece that painfully, yet effectively, showcases the lonely and cold world Marshall finds himself trapped in.
The OOZ isn’t a traditionally “enjoyable” album because of this. While the touches of saxophone and grooving rhythm and bass add moments of levity, King Krule isn’t looking to find answers or solutions to brighten the dark world of The OOZ. Rather it serves as a cathartic experience for the listener to process the depressing facets of King Krule’s life and hopefully come out of it with a better understanding of their own difficult relationship with the darker parts of their life.
While great singer/songwriters tend to lean on their lyrical abilities to achieve this, King Krule excels in perfectly translating these emotions into a sonic landscape that transcends the spoken word. Synth passages perfectly evoke the feeling of isolation, while jangling guitars evoke self-doubt and lack of a firm core of self-confidence. King Krule throws in influences from almost every genre under the sun to achieve a perfect emotional evocation. This is most notable with his vocal performances which range widely from soft spoken passages of longing to growling raw desperation.
The OOZ is such a fitting title for this reason. For 19 straight songs, King Krule absorbs you into his artistic work. Despite all efforts to escape or let go, the grimy, slime like sonic landscapes can’t be shaken off. The only choice the listener has is to give in and sink deep into its muddied waters. While not all 19 tracks are perfect in their execution musically due to underdeveloped musical ideas or odd mixing choices, the tone and production of every single track on the album maintains the record’s hold on the listener by keeping a consistent and cohesive mood.
While the ramifications of The OOZ likely won't be seen in the sonic or cultural evolution of indie rock for a few more years, King Krule has given a subtle, yet fatal, wound to the commercialized surf rock and jangle pop of the 2010s. King Krule effortlessly creates a familiar vibe found in those sounds and morphs them into his own. Few listeners will be able to find the next cookie-cutter surf rock and jangle pop band palatable knowing the absorbing world of The OOZ can be returned to. The OOZ is a genre defining album for indie rock and its grimy sludge will soon seep into the musical progression of the genre.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.