Indie wonderboy King Krule shows maturity on ‘Man Alive!’

Four stars.

The ginger-haired, indie wonderboy Archy Marshall returns with his third studio album Man Alive! under the pseudonym King Krule. Reflecting on impending parenthood, Marshall seems more introspective than ever, and beneath the jazzy saxophones, distorted guitars, and hip-hop beats, his anguish comes through even clearer. 

Marshall has previously spilled his heart in previous albums The Ooz and A New Place 2 Drown; but this feels different. Having this record half-finished, he learnt his partner was pregnant. With this newfound knowledge to ruminate on, Marshall creates a more personal album, along with his trademark intricate production and deep vocals. Primarily, it is clear how fluently the album flows. Samples, sound effects, and strong drum rhythms carry each track onto the next flawlessly. Even if the tracks aren’t brought together without a break, the musical motifs that the tracks on the record make all the songs sound great when played next to one another. Marshall creates a cohesive album experience, and his maturity in his music shines through.

The record starts strong with ‘Cellular’ a moody track with groovy guitars, punchy drums and jangly synths. Marshall showcases his ability to manipulate rhythm; from the grime influenced heavy bass and vocal flows in ‘Stoned Again’, to the jazzy drum breaks in ‘Underclass’. The soul and blues influences take centre stage on this album, with a myriad of uses of the saxophone, ranging from stirring solos to aggressive, howling climaxes. Intricate piano interludes are sprinkled throughout, most notably playing with a sax on ‘Theme for the Cross’ creating a gorgeous background for Archy to contemplate his new responsibility as a father. 

Marshall’s combination of masterful production and careful songwriting on ‘Perfecto Miserable’ make it a standout on the record. His pained yells towards a loved one fuses beautifully with a constantly shifting instrumental terrain. Although Marshall sings with confidence about their relationship, his usual distorted vocals and layering of conflicting harmonies often create a sense of unease, even in the sweetest of songs. The album does stall a little in the middle, with ‘Draag On’ lacking some heart in the execution, but ends with a strong length of tracks, concluding with ‘Please Complete Thee’, a heartfelt, dissonant track about longing for a lost lover, containing peaks of layered synths and valleys of atmospheric bass. Man Alive! is perhaps Archy Marshall’s most mature album, and hopefully he continues to build off of this impressive record. 

Image: The Come Up Show via Flickr