Archy Marshall’s got horror on the brain. He started celebrating spooky season early, in September, with the release of “Dum Surfer.” In the song's video, Marshall rides down the street on a rogue stretcher to play with an undead jazz band to a scant audience of ghouls. The song itself won’t get out of my head this month, from the ghostly sounds that guide you through an extremely messy night, one that ends with a drunken traffic accident, to the guitar solo smack in the middle, underscored by bleary sax. “I’m a step from madness as I puke on pavement slabs / Got a bit embarrassed, need to get back to the lab,” he rumbles, alternating pitches like he’s got two people inside of him. This will be my “Monster Mash” this year. — LEAH MANDEL
Archy Marshall is in his spoken word bag. He's always been a poet, stringing together words and phrases and concepts that are greater than the sum of their parts. But on "Logos," a short, velvety cut anchoring the first half of The OOZ, he goes a step further, emoting throatily over a mellow configuration of metronome-like percussion, sax, piano, and guitar: "We were soup together / But now it's cold / We were glued together / But it won't hold." I'll be honest: I'm not exactly sure what he's talking about half the time. But as ever, he offers a reminder that you don't have to understand in order to truly know. — Rawiya Kameir
In the middle of the 20th century, there was a surplus of sad songs about young people dying. These teen tragedy songs, which included big hits with titles like “Dead Man’s Curve” and “Endless Sleep,” have certain common signifiers beyond an early grave; there’s usually a nighttime setting, a lonely lover, and a really badly broken heart. The bleak rock and roll music Archy Marshall records as King Krule and Zoo Kid has always felt informed by popular music of that era, with its jazzy ticks and baritone croons. “Lonely Blue,” a swampy slow song from the middle section of Marshall’s new album, feels like an extremely King Krulean interpretation on this classic trope. Of course, in his world the story is less direct, and the tragic narrative takes on more of an ephemeral, sensory vibe. “In a ballad we touch / Cos our skulls will mush,” Marshall sings, ugly-sounding like a punk singer. It’s a haunting tribute to love, death, and the songs we sing about both. — PATRICK D. MCDERMOTT
Grief can devour you, and bad break-ups are the closest we get to mourning the death of a person who’s still alive. On “Czech One,” Krule's heart still throbs from that “one time he was impaled forlorn.” He stumbles through the aftermath with his scars in tow, eventually finding himself in the company of another woman. He needs an escape — some type of haven where he can be glum and write about his sadness. “She grips me tight / But I still rip at the seams at night / I can’t sleep at night / Never slept at night,” he sings at the end of the song, troubled by his ex’s absence — but equally tormented by her faithful visits to his dreams. It’s hard for Krule to spell out the name of the one who broke his heart. Sometimes it’s easier not to say. — LAKIN STARLING
The best part of a Slush Puppy is the sickliest, where the syrup clumps together, refusing to distribute evenly through the ice, and instead shooting up your straw in one thick hit of sugar. On The OOZ, King Krule embodies his album title by wading deep into his own sound. His gravelly vocal and distorted, bass-heavy instrumentals envelop the listener like treacle. But "Slush Puppy" is the sweetest sweet bit, an unexpected shot of sugar in a super-sized cup of melancholy. As he articulates his pure-feeling vulnerability ("Don't you dare replace me already"), his voice floats gently, in a way it never has before. It's one of the most sonically understated moments of the record, and also its most powerful. — AIMEE CLIFF
The realization that you’ve been lonely doesn’t always hit you all at once. It can creep up on you over time, while you’re minding your business, maybe subconsciously burying your brain into work or stacking your schedule so you don’t have to address your feelings. On “Cadet Limbo,” a near-middle cut of King Krule’s new album, The OOZ, it seems his emotions have caught up to him. “Has it been this long, since I’ve had this bond?,” he wonders. Wistfully blue chords and a wandering sax accompany his memories, which drift toward the last time he was caught within the gravitational pull of another earthly being. The gentle drums feel like the soft pushes one might need to power through stumble-y, destination-less exhaustion.
Around the two and a half minute mark, the song takes a turn. Rich horns burst in and ring bright, shining over keys that seem to be on an emotional journey of their own. Krule’s voice has slid away, his residual feelings free to float and be felt. — NAZUK KOCHHAR