Same Old Crisis 

King Krule: Arbiter of Angst

KING KRULE Not a bad mugshot!

KING KRULE Not a bad mugshot!

JUST AS STRIKING as your first listen to King Krule's 6 Feet Beneath the Moon—its subterranean gloominess emitting from frumpy reverbed guitars, caterwauling baritone vocals, and spectrum-spanning musicality—is your first look at its creator, Archy Marshall. The 19-year-old Londoner's spindly features, bright red hair, and freckles belie the power of a fantastically aggressive voice, both aurally and lyrically.

6 Feet Beneath the Moon vacillates between minimalist observations on oppressive English street politics ("Easy Easy" opens with "Same old bobby, same old beat/Yeah, they ain't got nothin' on me"), Marshall's presumed loss of faith (on "Has This Hit," in which he bellows, "When I look into the sky, there is no meaning/Girl, I'm the only one believing that there's nothing to believe in"), and several compositions that bull's eye the post-pubescent angst of woolly artists. Perhaps unwittingly, it's a kind of battle cry for disaffected youth.

It should be noted these anthems are far from hum-able. Appearing as anti-fad statements of sharp disillusionment, Marshall's songs run an arsenal of auditory wonders. He siphons the groove of dub music on "Border Line" into an oddly melodic semblance of a Joe Strummer tune on sleeping pills. Elsewhere, Marshall's mealy-mouthed sermons come packaged in hiphop beats (think Arrested Development, not Dre), as on "Foreign 2" or neo-soul send-ups like the manic "A Lizard State." That song, in particular, cements the notion that the only constant in Marshall's oeuvre is his tendency for chameleonic experimentation.

Adding to the mystique is Marshall's reluctance to speak with the media. As his publicist related, he's focused on creating his art, but not so much on sitting around talking about it. (The Mercury's request for an interview was deflected.) Marshall's recent appearance on Late Show with David Letterman notwithstanding, he shows little interest in any conventional music career-building strategy. Still, someone showing this much autonomy at such a young age, within such disorienting musical boundaries, is someone worth trying to get to know.

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