Hip Hop, Jazz, Review, RPM

Album Review: King Krule – The Ooz

Archy Marshall is royalty, but you might not know it if you haven’t heard his music. The 23 year old London based singer, rapper, and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire is back with The Ooz, his second full length album under the moniker King Krule. He gets his performing name from a Donkey Kong character, but more than that it’s a great descriptor of his music. Marshall’s harsh, gritty vocals create an interesting juxtaposition with the smoother beats that accompany most tracks on the album. The record fuses elements of punk, jazz, indie, and hip-hop to create an end product that sounds like a mellowed out version of John Zorn’s Naked City.

Musically, the album is extremely consistent. Most tracks feature very tight, suppressed drums, reminiscent of J Dilla or Young Marble Giants. Marshall uses catchy guitar riffs, such as those on “The Ooz” and “Slush Puppy” in unison with spacey and subdued keyboard synths (present on most every track), building tension to create beautiful, sprawling harmonies.  The last, most important ingredient to every track is his vocals, where he ranges from soft and somber to loud and aggressive depending on the lyrical content of the song.

“The Locomotive” is an introspective slow burner where Marshall describes himself waiting at a train station, plagued by his own thoughts. On “Logos” he describes a lost relationship with a woman: “We were soup together, but now it’s cold / We were glue together, but it weren’t to hold”. On these tracks, Marshall sounds more like an orator or a poet than a singer. He deals with themes of depression and isolation in a way that’s brutally honest. The accompanying instrumentals are slower and more toned down to put more of an emphasis on his vocals.

Some of the more fast paced songs include “Dum Surfer” and “Half Man Half Shark”. Marshall’s use of native jargon and his thick, clumsy accent create a clear vision of life as a punk in London. In “Dum Surfer“, he finds himself disoriented and intoxicated in a club where he scams a “dumb surfer” out of some cash. He pukes on the pavement and takes a cab home with a girl from the club, paranoid the whole trip home that the gods are out to punish him for his misdeeds. These songs feature somewhat cynical, more snarky lyrics as opposed to the introspective lyrics of most other tracks. Contrasting the more somber tone of most others on the album, these tracks serve as great changes of pace to keep the listener on their toes.

Archy Marshall presents an album that should leave any fan of alternative music excited for the future of the genre. The project marks a maturity and precision in his lyrics and showcases deep, catchy and well produced music. True as his name suggests, Archy is the new King of jazz-rap-punk fusion, if there even was one before.  

SCORE: Ooz/10

BEST TRACKS: The Locomotive, Slush Puppy, Czech One, The Ooz, Lonely Blue

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