King Krule Digs Into A Grey Psyche On ‘Man Alive’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Man Alive! is the third album from the London based artist King Krule (real name Archy Marshall) and it’s a gloomy mix of everything from hip-hop to noise rock to jazz. Marshall walks a fine line between artistic experimentation and somber passages he combines disparate elements into an urban grey rain cloud of a record. 

The digitally mellow “Cellular” opens the album which has a reoccurring theme of missed calls, ringing phones and voicemails as the artist taps into downer mode in style and substance. The bleak mood is set early as the ominous and artsy “Supermarche” rolls out while “Stoned Again” keeps that vibe but piles on spoken word, hip-hop and an odd guitar ending.

Marshall played all instruments himself on the record, minus the saxophone from Ignacio Salvadores and each time the sax appears things improve, such on the distorted funky jazz-based “Comet Face” or the smooth “Underclass”. “Alone, Omen 3” is the best complete effort here, slowly rolling with beats, distorted guitar and a lyrical sense of hope amongst the darkness. 

Too often though Krule tries something that doesn’t deliver the desired results such as on the breathy “Perfecto Miserable” or everything but the kitchen sink sound he tosses into the irony laced “Energy Fleets”. First single “(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On” takes a distorted vocal effect to slow things down even more, sleepy in a southern syrup influenced hip hop way while better results are found on the cinematic “Theme For The Cross”, however too often the album does what Krule asks it not to do, drag on.    

Marshall is an artist who will work in any genre and his art digs into his psyche yet the end result can be just as messy as most psyches are. Man Alive! is far from a celebration, it sounds transitional casting a wide net unsurely searching and grasping for what is coming next.  

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