Under the moniker King Krule, Archy Marshall has become known for creating music that is heavily informed by the dreariness of the world around him. On his new album, “Man Alive!,” he’s shifted that dreariness into a landscape motivated by a nervous excitement about his future.
“Man Alive!” was written and released while Marshall’s life drastically changed. In Mar. 2019, Marshall and his partner, Charlotte Patmore, welcomed their first child. The album is a meditation on his uneasiness with fatherhood and love.
The album begins with four songs that perfect the familiar punky jazz that King Krule was built on. This first quarter of the album feels like a catharsis of Marshall’s anxieties. His low spoken word becomes a hoarse, biting growl on these songs, which is the most punk that Marshall has sounded since the angrier parts of his 2013 album “6 Feet Beneath The Moon”.
“Cellular,” a song about connections with loved ones and how those connections are affected by the technology surrounding us, sets the tone for the album perfectly.
There is a constant interweaving of uneasiness and calm on this album. “Perfecto Miserable” is perhaps the prime example of this. A constant repetition of “You’re the only thing that makes me feel alright/I guess I have to go/,” sets the stage for this meditation on dependency. Marshall’s tone careens between comfortable and apprehensive, suggesting he is unsure of this relationship.
The transition of “Perfecto Miserable” into “Alone, Omen 3” emphasizes their connected themes. An optimistic contrast to the doubt of the previous track, Marshall reassures the listener and perhaps himself that “you’re not alone.”
“Airport Antenatal,” a standout track from the album, seems to be written from the perspective of Marshall contemplating his impending fatherhood while in flight. The song shifts from excitement about planes and birth to uneasiness. “Is there concerns in the air?” Marshall asks himself, contemplating the freedom he feels in the sky, worrying about what waits for him on the ground.
There are several moments on the album where Marshall describes love as a sickness, an “ailment” and a “disease,” but by the end of the record he appears to welcome it.
It makes sense for such a young independent artist to be afraid of commitment, but Marshall presents his fears on this album in a more endearing and thoughtful tone than the droves of men that have agonized over this topic.
The music that he’s created to soundtrack his brand poetry is sensitive and heartfelt. Even through the ominous and uncertain tone of the lyrics, Marshall makes it clear that he has let love and fatherhood overcome him and he’s happy with that.