King Krule

The Ooz

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Archy Marshall debuted as Zoo Kid when he was an actual kid and released his acclaimed first album -- under the presumably self-bestowed title King Krule -- before he turned 20. Marshall continued work on new material for years but was displeased with it, save for a set of mumbling-in-a-bucket hip-hop blues, A New Place 2 Drown, credited to his off-stage name. The Ooz, the artist's second King Krule album, surfaced -- or is that seeped out? -- five years after the first one. Compared to the debut, the songwriting is more refined and the sounds are more disparate, resulting in a sort of controlled chaos, a scuzzy mix of nervy neo-rockabilly projectiles, howling dirges, and noodling dive-lounge tunes. It's further distinguished with saxophonist Ignacio Salvadores' writhing bleats, continually in support of Marshall's scraggly guitar work and variety of voices, as liable to sound like his slumped natural self as an exaggeration of growling punks like the Clash's Paul Simonon or the Ruts' Malcolm Owen. Clear references are made to Marshall's previous full-lengths, and repeated allusions to water -- as in sinking -- as well as blue as a color and feeling, are likewise threaded throughout. Damp, suffocating city streets are never distant. When Marshall retreats to physical solitude, he can't leave his head -- not even with a prescription, a situation related in a whirling frenzy of insomniac agitation titled, naturally, "Emergency Blimp." Marshall is just as expressive and evocative when he keeps it guttural; "She smoked me whole and blows out Os," over decayed, dispirited bossa nova, passes like a wisp but could be the album's emotional center. Details that seem to provide levity -- "Man this band that's playin', is playing fucking trash" among them -- have a way of heightening the sense of inescapable dread. No matter that feeling, illustrated with one distressed scene after another, filtered through a multitude of inspirations and a few bodily fluids, The Ooz is a completely engrossing work from a one-off.

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