Music Reviews
Man Alive!

King Krule Man Alive!

(True Panther Sounds/XL Recordings) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

In the world of Archy Marshall, music collapses in on itself, melting into a gelatinous, primordial goop of sounds loosely melded together from the moon. As King Krule, his style is comparable to a hazy stumble-home from your local dive at 1AM, three drams of Dewar’s deep. 2017 saw the release of The OOZ, a masterful amalgamation of post-punk, dub, hip hop, and jazz that crystallized Krule’s developing aesthetic into something entirely his own. I would go so far as to call tracks from that album like Dum Surfer and Czech One some of the most memorable and unique and unique indie-rock songs of the decade. Following up such an album was sure to be a challenge, but, for the most part, Man Alive! stacks up quite well to The OOZ.

While Alive! isn’t a far cry from The OOZ compositionally, as all of King Krule’s sonic trademarks are accounted for here (layers upon layers of bass, freakish spoken-word lyrics, wobbly chords, downtempo beats, etc.), it somehow sounds even more nocturnal than its predecessor—and is all the more captivating for it. Where OOZ was a dizzying smorgasbord of styles, Man Alive! fleshes out Krule’s song crafting abilities to make for a slightly more cohesive and concise listening experience, albeit, one that remains perplexing—and still has a killer bite.

We begin with Cellular, one of Alive!’s singles and certainly a standout. The track launches with a blippy, arpeggiating synth line and downtrodden guitar licks, which lead into Krule’s signature half-rapped-half-sung vocal delivery—which sounds somewhere between a miles-thick cockney accent and a foghorn. But by the time Stoned Again hits, I am in post-punk heaven. While the instrumentation drives this cut, diving deeper and deeper into the depths of Lynchian drunkenness with chugging bass and blasts of breakbeats, Krule’s lyrics elevate it tenfold. He becomes unhinged here, sounding more and more possessed with each passing line as he declares: “Yeah, she’s my sweet/ My sweet and sour/ My lemon honey/ I ran all the way home that night/ Ran all the way home right back to my mummy.” It’s easily one of Krule’s most memorable vocal performances, right up there with the outro of Dum Surfer.

This is the energy that’s upheld throughout the majority of Man Alive!: the album takes hold of the most surreal, dreamlike, and dimly lit parts of your mind and refuses to ease its grip until the final seconds of closing statement Please Complete Thee, Alive!’s most delicate moment. On it, washes of keyboard chime behind a droning palate of plucked guitars, whisking you away after a lumbering, nightmarish forty minutes. Krule comes across more vulnerable on this cut, crooning longingly, “Please, complete me/ It must be the answer/ Everything just seems to be numbness or else/ Why aren’t you near me?/ What stars are you under?/ If only I could hear from you right now.” It’s an oddly peaceful and lucid, yet melancholic, end to an otherwise elusive and mind-bending LP.