King Krule released Man Alive! on 21 February (Photo Credit – Charlotte Patmore)
When 6 Feet Beneath the Moon was released in 2013, Archy Marshall (AKA King Krule) swiftly stole our attention with his soaring vocals and unorthodox sound. The first time I saw King Krule live was in 2014 when he was performing alongside English trio Daughter and Icelander Ásgeir – an unexpected but seamlessly put-together line-up. The then 19-year-old grungy ginger singer swept us off our feet by rigorously hollering angst-ridden sentiment on stage, “’cause if you are going through hell, we just keep going”. The crowd was completely smitten (some bewildered) even though half of them were foreign to the name King Krule before the show.
In 2017, Archy Marshall’s jazz-infused third studio album The OOZ (his second under the name King Krule) was a giant leap into the stratosphere. Everyone attending his headline show knew enough to go berserk and throw themselves to the heart of the mosh pit from beginning to end. The OOZ appeared in nearly every 50 Best Albums of 2017 listicle – Billboard, NME, Pitchfork, Vice, Consequence of Sound and more.
Over half a decade gone by, Marshall is now the father of his one-year-old daughter Marina whom he is raising with his girlfriend/famed photographer Charlotte Patmore. In an interview with the NME, Marshall exclaimed, “When she was born, she was the biggest expression of life and love, but I also lost some good people last year. Those juxtapositions between death and such extreme life must have had an effect on me.”
Despite moving on into parenthood, Marshall returns with his long-anticipated studio album Man Alive! and it is both snarky and seductive. If his previous albums were an enthralling saga of psych-rock explosions and fighting anthropomorphic creatures in outerspace; Man Alive! would be a humble trip to the dizzying edge of the holy mountain.
Always rough around the edges and stylistically eccentric, Man Alive! possesses a momentum that slows down the reel of film that is your train of thought. The opener ‘Cellular’ grapples us with sturdy hooks as we gradually melt away within the confines of his woozy post-punk wall of sound. ‘Stoned Again’ knocks you over through sheer proximity alone, reminding us of our most familiar King Krule. ‘Perfecto Miserable’ and ‘Alone, Omen 3’ make you feel like floating away in a cold reverie. As the album progresses, perplexity turns into a restful closure with ending tracks ‘Energy Fleets’ and ‘Please Complete Thee’.
As if the songs were pages ripped from his journal, Man Alive! is a real and honest poetry that seeps into your soul without any collateral damage. Instead of presenting itself as a sharp-edged outlet for your frustration, it offers you a much-needed calmness. The kind of calmness that might have come from Marshall maturing as a songwriter, a performer, as well as a father. Man Alive! might be of less glamour compared to his previous releases, but it is soothing like a rich cup of black coffee.
24 March – O2 Academy Brixton, London (SOLD OUT)
25 March – O2 Academy Brixton, London
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