It’s been over two years since King Krule, the stage name of British singer-songwriter Archie Marshall, released his critically acclaimed third album, The Ooz. Since that point, Marshall entered the next big chapter in his life in becoming a father to a newborn girl, a big alteration for fans who have been following him since he first released music at age 16. With this in mind, the expectation for his new album Man Alive! was that of soothing melodies and introspective thoughts. However, King Krule takes his evolution to the next step by turning up the tempo and letting all of his feelings out. The 14-track album, released last Friday by True Panther Sounds, features assistance from producer Dip Harris and background band members Ignacio Salvadores (saxophone), George Bass (drums) and James Wilson (bass guitar).
Describing the sound of King Krule’s music is a difficult task because of his unique voice, genre fusion and blurred position in the realm of modern music. Marshall incorporates sounds from late 80s alternative rock bands like Sonic Youth and Pixies, trip-hop groups such as Portishead and presents a glaring physical and musical resemblance to the late David Bowie in both his red hair and his spacey jazz tunes. His baritone voice is entirely special as well, which makes everything even more unmistakable. The album consoles its aggressive attitude early on with songs like “Cellular,” “Stoned Again” and “Comet Face,” where he shouts lines like “I’m high again, boy” and “A waste of time” alongside loud guitar riffs, fast paced drums and yelling.
A few songs later, in the middle of the album, comes a shift in mood in with “Alone, Omen 3,” where Krule brings in important messages and more relatable content. He says, “the ache and thunder in the storms of your mind, soak it in, for the rain will pass in time. Nothing wrong in sinking low. You’re the omen of paradise, You’re the ghost they put aside, but don’t forget you’re not alone.” Almost anyone can identify with these words in times of lonliness, but the endearing song as a whole seems to be dedicated to his 1-year-old daughter. The shift in tone of the album continues into much more of a mellow mood which Krule is most known for. On Track 10, “(Don’t Let the Dragon) Draag On,” Krule again goes for inspiring lyrics when he says, “I hang my head for those who ain’t been held too close in times of pain. When the ceiling drips, the room’s bathed in grey, outside’s a trip, for another day.” For those who relate to Krule on a personal level, these lyrics will mean a lot and is part of the reason why he’s been able to amass such a big following of genuine supporters. Another special sonically moment on this album is “Underclass,” where Krule truly shows his jazz side with an outro that sounds right out of the 70s.
Man Alive! easily stands out in being one of the more unique sounds coming out of modern-day alternative music. Fans hoping to compare the album to The Ooz will find interesting trends between the two projects. The album takes its listeners on a ride through emotions, a variety of sounds and a strange method of lyricism that may hit or miss. One point of struggle for the album, after only a weekend’s worth of listens, is pinpointing the exact theme or mission of it. Krule often goes all over the place with his lyrics, which takes time to closely follow. Because of the off-putting sound of King Krule’s voice, writing and instrumentals, it’s hard to believe that this album will be for everyone, but it is most definitely worth checking out.