Like a child on the days leading up to Christmas, I have been impatiently waiting for the debut album release of exciting London talent King Krule and his colourfully named album ‘6 feet beneath the moon’. My anticipation of this album has been fuelled by the 5 EP’s the singer songwriter has released to date. Particularly on the self titled ‘King Krule’ EP he showed the artistry of a remarkable talent, one of such this country hasn’t indulged in, in a long time.
King Krule aka Archy Marshall is a 19 year old Brit graduate hailing from South-East London (Peckham). He previously performed under the name Zoo kid, but changed to King Krule, a name inspired by the character King K Rool from the video game series Donkey Kong Country. King Krule has been likened to artists such as Edywn Collins and branded as ‘dark wave’. You can clearly see influences such as King Tubby, Fela Kuti and 50’s rocker Gene Vincent in his work and when you mix all these roots and influences together, a potent art form configures.
With his youthful innocence and striking red hair, King first came to the public eye on his track ‘Out getting ribs’ (in 2010) and from the very second that you hear his husky vocals break out despairingly, you knew that his guy was a force to be reckoned with . When this song was released King was just 15 years old and he showed the voice, concept and lyrics of a person of a much more mature age. Music critics were impressed by this video and as a result Krule was strongly likened as the next Joe Strummer, no pressure then!!
King Krule’s music is tough to pigeon hole into a specific genre, such is the beauty of it, with soul, Indie, stripped down dub and Jazz influences all complied into this album along with his innovative, emotive lyrics. Archy even stated his sound as ‘Like a meat grinder. With all genres as the meat, and my brain as the grinder’. The beauty of this quote comes to light, when you fully embrace yourself within the album.
With a growing fan base (including Beyonce and Frank Ocean) and a mounting reputation over the last 3 years, this debut album has been raised as one of the most anticipated of the year and was even nominated for BBC sound of 2013. So what did I think of it?
‘6 Feet beneath the moon’ opens in a much more accessible tone then I would have expected from King Krule, with obvious single candidate ‘Easy Easy’ slowly introducing and enticing the audience into the workings of this talented teenager. Even though the song is simple, with a lack of depth and meaningful lyrics, it’s a nice opener and for a song he wrote when he was just 12, I think he can be excused for it lacking depth!
But for me personally, this album really starts to show King Krule undoubted potential on the 4th track ‘Foreign 2’, where the beat kicks in and shows the full notion of this artist. In this track you feel the full force of the artists wisdom helplessly washing over you in an instant, he has vision and understanding of someone many years his senior, which is beautiful complimented by the entwining guitar work, leading to an overall memorable track. You feel the strong Jazz influence really come to life on ‘A lizard state’ with Krules energetic guitar work unfolding into a sound which you will be hard pressed to have heard before. You experience the full force of his lyrical content on ‘ ‘Out getting ribs’, which has been much improved to a slicker sound since the EP release (in 2010). Kings raw emotion and animalistic growl on the words ‘don’t break away’ is a definite highlight for me. The album draws to a stunning close on ‘Bathed Grey’, where I feel Krule shows his full lyrical potential. This track is a poet’s utopia, with Krules imaginative words blending together stunningly with a clever reference to track 3 ‘Has this hit’, which further showcases this young man’s undisputed talent.
From the first note to the last, Krule delivers a beautifully mastered atmospheric and spaced out concept, thanks to the instrumentation, with a heavy but not overused amount of delay and reverb resulting in a dark and menacing feeling throughout the album, with Krules powerful vocals adding to this feat. The only real track that differentiates from the album is ‘Border Line’, with the Johnny Marr like guitar, complimented with an almost ska type structure, adding a healthy contrast to the record. On top of this, the clever textures and layers in this album will be sure to keep any music lover interested and entranced by this album too.
The component that attracted me the most on this album is Krules poetic lyrics. In his words, you can strongly see the jazz influence, as he provides lyrics that are very simple, yet effective in getting their message across and this is a consistent factor of the record. His age also provides a huge advantage in the profoundness of his lyrics, where his youthfulness shows naivety and bravado, further strengthening the raw lyrical content. On the song ‘Neptune Estate’, Krule repeats the words ‘I wanna be with you, I wanna be used’, in such a decisive manner, that you actually start to feel and share in his pain. Such is the power of his direct and cynical but yet simple lyrics all the way through the album.
To my surprise he chose not to include all songs from his past EP tracks, with stand out tracks such as ‘The Noose of Jah City’ and ‘Octopus’ left out. This further adds to his overall credibility and shows that he has the talent to pick and choose the songs that make the album complete, like any true artist should do, given the fact that he is only 19 years of age this makes it all the more impressive. It is scary to think of the potential of this young man, and what he can achieve in the future.
Another aspect I love is the eye-catching album cover art (shown above). It links in beautifully with the concept of the album, with the isolated and desperate figure of Archie Marshall, in space, showing the atmospheric concept and struggle that is apparent throughout the whole album. The cover art entices you in and accomplishes the job of giving you an insight to this beautiful album.
King Krule released this album on the 24 August 2013, the day he turned, and he can live in the knowledge that he has made a true master piece, a present to himself almost, that his years of hard work and determination have paid off. I don’t know if it is because I am of a similar age as Krule, and he successfully conveys the experiences of an 18/19 year old (heart break, isolation etc), but this album spoke to me on so many levels. It surprised, it enticed, it was understated, it had all the formulas needed for a great album to be made. To sum it up King Krule has made a gritty, seductive and incandescent album, which when you give yourself to, will be rewarded with so much in return, to the extent where you share and truly feel the troubles of the talented, tortured soul that is King Krule.
Overall I give this album a 9/10
By Isaac Roblett