Review Summary: Neoteric smog..
“Dum Surfer,” the single put forth last month from his new album The OOZ
, saw King Krule crack out of the languid, patient daze of his last efforts A New Place 2 Drown
and 6 Feet Beneath the Moon
, finding new unrest, that while decidedly more agitated, still occupied a dreamy state. The woozy number, sitting somewhere between inner-city post-punk and warped lounge jazz, edged the scrawny chav and his formidable baritone another notch up the bracket, giving listeners a sign that he may be attempting to finally step into all the potential and substance his debut and follow-up had been hinting at. His underhanded prowess as a producer and writer had always been on display, drifting below surface layers of lo-fi production and sinsemilla clouds. With The OOZ
, Krule may be reaching for new ambition within the skiver mode. It works, gaining him tiers of range and voltage, without usurping the Spartan roots that gave rise to it all.
plays out like bleak dispatches from a dystopian disco. Opiated dance numbers, occasionally sliced up by guitar ambits, a steady stream of scratchy hip-hop from some dark corner of a crumbling metropolis. Atmosphere is everything here, and Krule uses it to maximized effect. It lends the album droves of protean charm. Tracks like “Surfer,” the lazily swaying “Slush Puppy” or the strum-drunk “Emergency Blimp” would play out with equal potency at an anodyne party, you pressing close to a dance partner, or with you dozing off in bed, headphones on and skull swarming with thoughts.
Krule’s voice, still alien in its gravel authority from the pale lips of the shrimpy kid, continues to be one of the best tools in his arsenal. Indelibly soulful on slower numbers, and nervily frantic once out of first gear, it sits all over The OOZ
, making every turn the music takes elegant and roughshod in equal measure. His touch as a producer is just as impressive from the hands of a relatively young contender, packed with nuance and reflection, carving a strange crawlspace between Sinatra-esque sheen, Rawkus-style bebop beats, trance and DIY indie. “Cadet Limbo” is a prime example of that busy twist, a drugged-out jazz tune, packed with ambience and drunken brass.
At 19 takes, The OOZ
can and does feel overlong. But its running length does little to hamper the cohesion. The beginning, middle and end of OOZ
are all as taut as they are tiptop. What’s more affecting is how confident Krule is through the album’s stretch. He negotiates his first love of hip-hop into the new multi-genre fold seamlessly, doing a better job of it than most in recent memory, to say nothing of the crude mash-ups that came from the niche around the turn of the century. It all sounds gritty and laidback and avid, and most importantly perhaps, it isn’t afraid to partake in some good old-fashioned splendour. By all standards of the trade, The OOZ
is a subdued triumph, a fine show from a young, ever-promising artist whose vision mercifully doesn’t outpace his capacity.