Artist: King Krule
Album: Man Alive!
Genre: Art Rock/Post-Punk/Jazz
Label: True Panther Sounds/XL Recordings/Matador
When going into a King Krule album you can always expect to be emotionally and mentally exhausted when coming out of the album, and I mean that in the kindest way possible. Archy Marshall under the “King Krule” moniker has had quite the evolution in recent years. Going from his early Jazz-oriented sound to his smooth Trip-Hop style of his music under his real name Archy Marshall to 2017’s critically acclaimed The OOZ, one thing has remained certain, Marshall will always wear his heart on his sleeve and be uncompromisingly honest, resonating with countless people whom find solace in his moody introspective reflections and worldview, people including myself, but that doesn’t exempt him from criticism. As a matter of fact, I was quite critical of his last album The OOZ. Though the album featured some of his best work, it was frustratingly bloated and extensive, and would have been a more solid and cohesive effort had he trimmed the fat. The length and unfinished filler tracks that littered that album are what keeps me from listening to the album in it’s entirety whenever I revisit it, but where that album faltered, Marshall took those misfires and improved them immensely on his new album Man Alive! This album is a massive improvement and has a reasonable length. Marshall continues to experiment with the abstract, the genre blends of Post-Punk, Jazz, and Hip Hop, and his lyrics are as introspective and poetic as ever. Following the birth of his son, Marshall is naturally in a different spot in life right now, which explains the more optimistic tone that combats much of the album’s despondence. For those moments where Marshall delves into the pains of solitude, he carries a light of hope. The blend of saxophone-driven Jazz but not your Father’s Jazz and artistic Post-Punk with Marshall’s rough and gruff vocals is what we’ve come to expect at this point, but where much of the tracks that found him going in that direction on The OOZ sounded like unfinished vignettes, that sound is perfectly honed and fully-fleshed out on Man Alive! and like I said earlier, this album is filled with introspection, poetry, and swagger that evokes the same cool spirit of artists like Tom Waits or Nick Cave. Lyrically the album deals with themes of losing connection with people, solitude, the state of our technology-driven world, addiction, and most importantly, the love he feels for his partner and his newborn son. That’s where the optimism lies, and it’s nice to see Marshall acknowledging the light after much acknowledgement of the melancholy. This is by far his best work.
Written By: Steven Sandoval