From first glance at Archy Marshall, he almost seems too real of a human being to make music. He doesn’t dress in a suit, he has no rough Faris hair, no ridiculous MC Ride beard, and not even a pair of Buddy Holly glasses. King Krule is lanky, he has a constantly changing dress sense, all pictures of him are him looking idle, and his voice is too deep for someone who’s only hit 19. He’s just a London based teen who made music from the age of 16 in his bedroom around 2010 under the name Zoo Kid, his Bandcamp got a ton of praise all around the internet and of course it wasn’t long until organisations like Pitchfork got their hands on him. Although his Bandcamp stuff blew more or less everything out of the way, the raw bedroom production was definitely easy to spot. Then came his name change in early 2011 when he signed to True Panther, this followed a brilliant eponymous EP, the massive ‘Rock Bottom’ single, and them absolutely gorgeous collaborations with Mount Kimbie. Finally, after being cursed with the brand of ‘potential’ and signing to XL, King Krule dropped the full length ‘6 Feet Beneath The Moon’ on his birthday.
6 Feet opens with Krule’s first single ‘Easy Easy’, and thank god he released it as a single before because I was so disappointed when it first got released. After re-listening to it the album opener is slightly more bearable. In fact, well…it’s actually good. The first line is a excellent demonstration of what Krule’s voice is like, “Same old bobby, same old beat…” he bellows. The rest of the song is him touching on “dead end” jobs and how Tesco should “allow stealing my money”. I mean he wrote the song when he was twelve, and it’s still a booming opener. After this comes ‘Border Line’, and how sweet is that melody, right? With a light ska-ridden guitar to begin with, Krule’s voice is so juxtaposed to the whole instrumentation, but the way his voice fluctuates between each guitar line is something to die for. The chorus is also light, showered with reverb and other effects, essentially it’s just classic Krule. ‘Foreign 2’ could be played in a club. It’s interesting though, with that dance/dub opener it still manages to evoke as much emotion as Archy’s other stuff. His gruff voice fits with the darkness of drum beat, the guitar lines are subtle, but nothing is so overpowering that it gets old.
Highlights in the second half of the album are much harder to come by, however one that’s almost impossible to dislike is that huge re-recording of ‘A Lizard State’. Starting with the most laid back groan to jump into the song, this is King Krule at his finest, and I mean at his finest. Every lyric, the way he delivers every lyric is so beautifully arrogant. He sounds arrogant, the lyrics are arrogant, but this is an arrogance that is so well deserved, and so well fitted. “And now I’m gonna fuck things over ‘cause that’s a start, if I can’t have it then no one can.” Not only is this song lyrically but also vocally fantastically delivered, ‘A Lizard State’ is Krule’s most textured work. Reverb soaked guitar, thundering horns, even a phone ringing in the back for some strange reason, but who cares cause it works, and it works fucking well. It’s funny too, ‘cause I wasn’t fond of the old recording at all. The album’s second single, ‘Neptune Estate’ also serves very, very well. With the hip hop beat, the ascending piano delicately matching Krule’s voice, it’s just a mesmerising number, isn’t it? It’s got every ex lover’s most deepest desires in it, “I wanna be with you, I wanna be used…I hope you feel used.” I might even go as far as saying his lyrics have improved on that song, which is quite a feat considering how intriguing his lyrics were before.
On the other hand, this album definitely has some disappointing moments. There are some truly pointless tracks on here, and to be honest after making such brilliant music over these 3 years (be it through King Krule, DJ JD Sports, or Edgar The Beatmaker) I really thought this album would be the most exciting I’ve heard in a long time. For a start, some of the songs on here seem to be just album fillers, and for an album that has 14 tracks taking those tracks away would still make it long enough to be an album. Even if he didn’t want his album to be under 50 or so minutes, he could’ve replaced some songs with gems like ‘The Noose of Jah City’, or ‘Rock Bottom’.
‘Has This Hit?’ has the most minimal instrumentation and Krule’s voice just rides above everything else, not in a good way. His voice gets too loud and too intense with hardly any backing music which isn’t that pleasant to listen to while he’s screaming down the microphone. What’s more is that his voice follows no tune in this song until the change up at the end. He doesn’t go anywhere with melody and after a while of listening to this song, the exciting deep voice just wears a bit thin. I find the same with the song ‘Ceiling’ and ‘Cementality’ which is disheartening because they’re both around ‘Baby Blue’ which is Krule in his most romantic state.
As with King Krule’s first eponymous EP, a few songs on here just seem half done. Track 9 ‘Will I Come’ sounds great with melodic backing vocals and Archy husking about wanting to break a heart but it comes up to only 1:55. The verse he sings seems way too short and it just sounds like there should be another half of a song that he just hasn’t bothered to put in, because of frustration with recording or whatever. On the contrary the songs towards the end of this LP just turn into a bit of a drag. Despite ‘Neptune Estate’ being an absolute wonder, it does go on for a bit longer than it needs to, same with ‘The Krockadile’.
Sadly, and I actually do say this with bitter disappointment is that the other two re-recordings (which were possibly my favourite King Krule songs before they were re-recorded) are considerably worse than their predecessors. ‘Ocean Bed’ has such less energy than the original, it’s slower, mellower, and Archy just doesn’t sound as sad and angry as he did before. The raw production is gone and he changes his singing voice for it a bit. He sort of trails off when singing to give it a more soul-esque sound. It doesn’t work, it sounds cringey. But you know, I might’ve actually forgiven that, if he didn’t ruin ‘Out Getting Ribs’. ‘Out Getting Ribs’ the song that made him. He does the same thing, tries to trail off singing but it doesn’t make him sound any bit more emotive, it once again ruins the song. Especially the climax of the tune where in the old version he’d splutter out with such misery, “Girl, don’t you worry ‘bout a thing.” Instead now, he prolongs each note, and it makes me cry with such anger. Why he decided to change that stellar song is truly a mystery to me.
As far as production goes on this LP, it’s pretty good. Rawness is kept on some songs but it adds to the experience in a positive way. Occasionally I found that there was too much reverb, and some other effects I think were unnecessary. However although the production is good, it’s pretty inconsistent, which is fine to make the album more diverse, but most of the more diverse songs didn’t do much for me at all. Also, the songs didn’t flow through the tracklist brilliantly, although it isn’t the worst I’ve come across.
King Krule has come a long way. At 19 he’s put out self produced material, released an EP, a single, and now a full length debut (not to mention his work under other monikers). He’s collaborated with Mount Kimbie, rumours are going round that he’s set to be on Frank Ocean’s new album, I mean he’s even friends with Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. He’s come a long way, and I can only see good things ahead for his musical career. This isn’t the perfect album I’ve been waiting since last year for, but there are some moments on here which make me shake in frustration at how I’ll never be this good, even when I’m 40.
Words By Saagar Kaushik