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September 04, 2018 - Image 30

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King Krule sinks deeper and deeper
on his third full-length, ‘The OOZ’

London is a melting pot, sure, but
Peckham is something else. There
are Nigerian fashion retailers mixed
with Jamaican chicken shacks;
down the road there are cult-like
gatherings where British youth
reminisce about the days before
CCTV monitored the top deck of
buses. It’s a bizarre place, and a
fitting home for Archy Marshall —
a scraggly white kid with red hair,
who cites J Dilla and Fela Kuti with
equal reverence.
Archy’s broad range of influences
lends itself naturally to his scattered
musical identity. His most acclaimed
work is as King Krule, the enigmatic
guitarist we haven’t seen since 2013,
but he’s also Edgar The Beatmaker
(Soundcloud producer), DJ JD
Sports (Macbook rapper), Zoo Kid
(depressed high schooler) and of
course Archy Marshall (so far, a lo-fi
cloud rapper).
His latest effort as King Krule,
The OOZ, is largely characterized
by the radio silence that preceded it.
Since we’ve last seen him, he’s aged,
fallen in and out of love, rapped with
rappers and smoked in his ever-
changing native Peckham. On “A
Slide (In New Drugs)” he quips “The
cityscape, bourgeoisie change to
replicate / How can I be feeling the
same as you?”
It’s been four years, but he’s by

and large the same as he once was.
Where on 6 Feet Beneath The Moon
Archy would yell at the sky, The
OOZ sees him kick rocks through a
cloud of smoke. While the years have
certainly eroded the more explosive
musical tendencies of his youth, the
album features some of his clearest
and sharpest songwriting to date.
At 17 he already had the
perspective of a twice-divorced
man, but now at 23, the pool of
experience he draws from has
grown even more burdensome. The
album is his best attempt at letting
it out, or perhaps letting us in, and
while it’s not exactly a “happy place,”
the incessant “ooz” of day-to-day
life presents a challenge you simply
learn to get on with.
On album-opener “Biscuit Town,”
he rhymes “Gianfranco Zola” with
“I think she thinks I’m bipolar”; his
thoughts dart through his South
London upbringing on inhale and
move to relationships on exhale.
At times it’s hard to tell if his
intense ruminations are really just
melodramatic grouses. On “Vidual”
he grumbles “I put my trust in many
things but now I know that’s dumb
/ So I don’t trust anyone, only get
along with some / Saw that girl again
one time and now I know it’s done”.
It’s all just a bit passé for a 23 year old.
There are a lot of these soft
murmurs on this album, but for the
first time, there’s some absolute
belting too, as we’d seen earlier this

year on Mount Kimbie’s “Blue Train
Lines.” At first pass it’s difficult to
make sense of him screaming “I wish
I was people!” on “Locomotive,”
but honestly, when shit goes pear-
shaped, wouldn’t you love to be
“people,” too? Other brash instances,
like his “Half man with a body of
a shark” chant (16 times over), are
slightly more bewildering.
Archy front-loads most of the
album’s flashpoints, like a guitar
solo on “Dum Surfer” that sounds
like you’re hearing it for the first
time, every time. Later in the song he
conjures imagery of him puking on
the sidewalk before getting in a cab
with a Slovakian girl.
Though “Dum Surfer” is his only
“night out” on the album, most of the
songs take place on nights where the
darkness just swallows him whole.
It’s less lad culture debauchery
and more anxious rambling about
relationships, family and self-doubt.
“Logos” for example, would not
have been so out of place on Frank
Ocean’s Endless (it’s similar in
that way to his fantastic EP, A New
Place 2 Drown). “I call my mum /
She stumbles home / Through open
ground / Back to broken homes”
sounds like it’s being recited while
sinking into his couch. Sonically, the
song deviates from his traditional
adding elements of jazz he’s cited but
never quite recreated until now.
That sinking feeling never leaves

The OOZ, and the only thing that
oscillates over the course of the
album is his willingness to reach for
others. Much of the album is about
finding out if what you need is time
alone or more time with someone
The drunk keys of “Czech One”
bring with them the centerpiece of
the album — a woozy song of lust,
isolation and directionless passing of
time. “She asked me why I’m here /
But I come here every night / Do you
need to tell her something? / No, I
need a place to write”. In one verse,
he “drown[s] too quick,” “fade[s] out
of sight” and yet, “he still search[es]
for warmth.”
In the music video, for a moment,
he actually levitates over the
pavement of Bermondsey; in a way,
that’s what he’s been doing for the
past five years. He’s always been
floating in the middle, somewhere
in-between. He’s five aliases at
once. He’s “half man half shark,”
half where he wants to be and half
crumbling, physically present but
mentally disintegrating.
The OOZ makes you question if it’s
even worth getting up. It obscures
what you think you know, because
sometimes those downward spirals
are just harsh realities you’d rather
not believe. Sometimes it isn’t too
bad to be true though — it’s just plain
true. The OOZ is what lures you
further into the couch. Sometimes
that’s just where you need to be.

St. Vincent straddles coastal
style in hot pink heeled boots

St. Vincent is a fabrication.
It’s a creation slowly built and
carved by Annie Clark, a project
that came to resemble a human
but wasn’t entirely meant to
be. The name itself suggests
the unreal, like the abstraction
taken from an icon, a wistful
sense of the holy that never was
and isn’t still. That it’s Annie’s
face which graces the cover of
over half St. Vincent’s studio
albums is beside the point:
They share the same face,
but St. Vincent is the image,
Annie the person. Clark likes
to play with that line between
the persona and the person,
but no matter how sweetly
she has danced between the
two, she still makes it known
that it’s a performance. That
creation has been her appeal
to universality, and her Chloes
and Johnnys, her “You”s and
“I”s are all characters in this
world building.
her fifth album, the tension
between Annie and St. Vincent
dominates. It means everything
and still it’s more unclear than
ever before. That’s St. Vincent
seduction of the masses. There’s
the created image fearing the
future. And yet, when we move
beyond the plastic surgery she
both mocks coyly and wears
herself, there’s an unflagging
clarity that feels new.
song like “New York.” Never
has she felt so naked; never
so simply beautiful, so free
of alien metaphor, straight-
same. Here, she sings to a
friend about definitions, about
what a city means when those
who made it everything are
gone. Loss is consuming on
“New York” is the heart of
this album, and so is the city.
This is an album of love within
a disease — within powerful
that rip people apart. And when
she’s talking about love, she’s
talking about New York. Her
relationships mold that city,
and when she walks through
Time Square with her friend in
“Happy Birthday, Johnny,” the
loss she feels in the tear of that
friendship is inexorably tied to
those buildings. She sings him
happy New Year and the ball
drops for them both, far apart
as they may be.
When she’s on the other

longing too, but it’s more lustful
there, and a bit cheeky. On “Los
the superficial desires of that
city. It’s a story of wants in
Hollywood, this dying yearn for
youthful perfection that will
forever remain unattainable:
“How can anybody have you?
/ How can anybody have you
and lose you?” That song and
that city are a degree separated
isn’t a place, and whoever or
whatever you take the “you”
as, it’s gone regardless. Like
that illusion, the song itself
is overly concocted, complete
with the ’80s drum pattern

and synths signature of pop
producer Jack Antonoff, who
co-produced this album. This
formula appears all throughout
MASSEDUCTION, and it can
be relentless in its forced smile.
Of course that’s the point,
but it can make for a less than
gratifying listen. “Los Ageless”
never really goes anywhere. It
hardly wavers from the straight
line laid out by its chorus.
We can read the tension
between St. Vincent and Annie
between the two coasts, and this
album rides these two modes:
She alternates between the
plastic of San Bernardino and
the wrought confessional of the
concrete jungle. Loneliness and
loss move between these coasts,
certainly, but the separation
between the cities defines how
she processes these feelings. In
New York she looks inwards; in
Los Angeles she looks outwards
MASSEDUCTION is very much
about flying between them.

The stretch from “Pills”
to “Los Ageless” is that West
coast concern for the outward.
The seductions she tackles
are broader and more of the
masses, as the album title
hyper-specific moments we get
on the tracks about New York,
like that hotel room where
Johnny lights up his Bic lighter
in “Happy Birthday, Johnny.”
Instead we have abstractions;
in the title track she sings of
“A punk rock romantic” and
“Nuns in stress position.” On
“Pills,” she dances to a chipper
club beat while describing a
pill-induced haze that could
be anyone’s. She sounds almost
celebratory, and she gets away
with it because she’s right there
in it too, seduced by the drugs
and technology herself. She
avoids what easily could have
been a gratingly haughty tone.
This slew of songs is the
most upbeat on the album,
and St. Vincent hardly lets up
the guise. They’re interesting
thought experiments, but they
can grow a bit tiresome as they
push farther in the album,
that sound reappears as late as
“Fear the Future,” it’s nearly
exhausting. It’s what makes
those New York tracks so
stunning, such breaths of fresh
air among all the sickness.
For a while we’re not sure
whether the two sides of this
album will ever truly meet:
drug- and sex- fueled nights
lead into confessionals without
a clear sense of narrative. It’s
not until the end that we see
MASSEDUCTION as a single
story, on the closing track,
“Smoking Section.” The song is
an absolute triumph. It brings
the unresolved ends to light, and
the apparent contradictions are
explained. St. Vincent draws a
sketch of someone on the edge,
someone who sees how easily it
could all burst into flames and
kind of likes it, maybe wants
it to happen. “Let it happen,”
she sings. And yet she doesn’t.
By the end she decides, “It’s
not the end,” though it very
well could have been. The
track moves slowly, explodes,
recoils and does it all over, like
the turns this album makes
track by track. It’s a glam rock
ballad about pop suicide, which
she contemplates like a dark
game on her stage, waiting for
someone to light her up. But she
doesn’t want to step over that
edge. She stays behind it, toying
reveling in the seduction all the

With ‘Virtue,’ Casablancas
looks back (but not in anger)

I was fooled by “Leave it In My
Dreams,” the first single off The
Voidz’s sophomore effort, Virtue.
I thought this was going to be a
Strokes album. The muted riffs
and sharp lyrics sound like an
Angles bonus track.
But this is not a Strokes album,
and it’s not exactly an album
either. Virtue feels, instead, like a
collection of everything frontman
Julian Casablancas couldn’t do
with that aforementioned band.
It’s an outpouring of musical
It’s a mess, one that isn’t well
served by determinations of
“good” or “bad.” Some tracks
excel, others confuse, but Virtue
isn’t the sum of its unbalanced
probably love that designation.
with Vulture, we know he’s a
man whose steadfast ideologies
are all but completely removed
from reality. He’s easy to confuse
with a certain love interest from
a certain best picture nominee.
Yes, that’s right. L’Enfance Nue
is older, but in no way grown up.
And the Julian/Kyle parallel
has never been more apparent
than on Virtue. “I was soon sent
off to school / Where the teachers
gave me poison / And I drank it
like a fool,” Casablancas sings
on “Think Before You Drink, ”
a track sonically reminiscent of
“I’ll Try Anything Once.” He’s
rightfully preoccupied with the
world’s suffering and decay, but

hasn’t yet grown out of seeing
himself at its center.
On “Lazy Boy” — a song that
lyrically could’ve been written
by that one band from your
high school (see previous “Lady
Bird” reference) — Casablancas
sings: “Jackets are the eyes
to the soul,” proving he can
Casablanca’s rebranding of a
specific downtown cool for the
new millennium cemented The
Strokes in the visual cultural
memory. He seems, here, to be
trying to reconcile his desire
for musical recognition and his
“popular.” It’s a true Catch-22
for Julian: Fame is for frauds
and obsolescence is for the
For brief moments — “Leave it
in My Dreams” and “All Wordz
Are Made Up” — Virtue sees
the Voidz letting go, leaning
wholeheartedly into a kind of
joyful existentialism. Nothing
matters! Isn’t that sort of fun?
“No one will care about this in 10
years,” he sings on “All Wordz Are
Made Up,” in another moment
of self awareness. He seems to
understand the shelf life of his
specific celebrity brand, and his
precarious position in popular
culture. But these tracks lack the
self-lamentation found in other
corners of the album. They’re,
carefree in their nihilism.
Virtue is an operation in
nostalgia that tries to front as
forward thinking. Casablancas
got slammed for rewriting the

’70s with The Strokes. With The
Voidz, he’s moved his musical
homage a decade into the future —
mining the ’80s in all their synth-
filled, vocally distorted glory. In
that sense, Virtue is progressive
for an artist obsessed with the
past. But it’s not progressive for
2018, not really.
Casablancas isn’t looking into
the future at all. In many ways,
Virtue feels like a last ditch effort
— one final shot to get all the
things in his head into an album.
In a move that leans more towards
a mixtape than a cohesive album,
the Voidz bounce from art rock to
synth pop to a weird attempt at
metal (the aptly titled “Pyramid
of Bones”). It’s as disjointed as it
is unbalanced. But, as we know,
when Casablancas is on, he’s on
and when he’s not, he’s so earnest
in his attempt that you can’t help
but applaud it.
For moments he feels jaded
in his surrender to middle age.
Casablancas seems to be looking
back on his own life: his youth, his
angst, his glory. And it’s hard to
blame him, The Strokes rocked.
So we can revel in this mess of an
album a little longer than most,
cut it’s chaos more slack than
we otherwise would. Virtue is
exactly what we knew would
happen when Julian Casablancas
had to finally grow up.
There are very few things I
know to be absolute truths but
among them are these: New York
rock isn’t dead yet and Julian
Casablancas is no longer it’s
savior. And maybe he never was.

Managing Arts Editor

Daily Arts Writer

Daily Arts Writer

and loss move
between these
coasts, certainly,
but the separation

defines how she
processes these



2D — Fall 2018
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com

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