Still a young lad at twenty-three, Archy Marshall has displayed considerable maturity and patience throughout his fluid, sneaky output commencing at age sixteen. The OOZ, Marshall’s third release as King Krule proper—in addition to those bearing his given name and the Zoo Kid moniker—is the congealment of a preternatural artist slipping into his own shoes. With this record, Marshall has transcended the embedded reference to his misattributed namesake King K. Rool, the crocodilian villain from Donkey Kong Country, even though the former’s alarming baritone sits in a similarly swampy register as the latter’s sixteen-bit death rattle.
In the early moments of “Biscuit Town,” a manipulated sine wave seeps in from the ether, running parallel to a sleek jazz guitar riff that loops over a drum break and sordid tale of an aborted rendezvous, never quite crossing the tracks. “I seem to sink lower” is Marshall’s sly refrain. But things aren’t always what they seem.
The breadth of genre and influence that The OOZ sports over nineteen tracks totaling more than an hour is nothing short of staggering. But for all his gushing musical acumen and enthusiasm, what’s most impressive about the King Krule of late is Marshall’s growth as a storyteller. His are tales of youthful ne’er-do-wells saturated with sullen sex and sloppy drugs to the point of boredom, and what ultimately bubbles from beneath that murk is a very deep loneliness and evidence of pure passion. “Concaves her chest / Now I’d be glad to see / The blue cave / The deep dark unknown… She screams but she’s stoned,” muses Marshall on “Lonely Blue.”
In a second act preoccupied with downtempo psychedelic lounge jazz, “Cadet Limbo”’s forlorn emotional fiber, delivered with such adept patience, is near impossible to associate with a person so far removed from the actual jazz age. But with Marshall, the question was never “if” but rather “when,” and thanks to his calcified, extraordinary The OOZ, the answer is firmly “now.”