King Krule’s latest album, “Man Alive!”, is a cloudy look into the bumps and bruises of seeking peace and maturity.
King Krule is a 25-year-old South London native who first shocked the world with his howling baritone vocals on his debut EP, “King Krule”, which he released at just 17 years old. Since then, he has released two albums, “6 Feet Beneath the Moon” and “The Ooz”, and another project, “A New Place 2 Drown” under his real name, Archie Marshall.
Throughout his career, Krule’s sound has evolved beyond a deep-voiced singer-songwriter into something quite unique. With each project, he has pulled further away from traditional song forms and moved closer to creating sonic palettes that hang in the room and in your mind long after the music stops.
“Man Alive!” is his next evolution. Pulling on similar sounds to his 2017 album, “The Ooz”, Krule fades in and out of the music, sharing his deeply poetic musings over sparse drums, eerie instrumentals and anguished guitar riffs in a way that feels equally cathartic for him and the listener.
On “The Ooz”, King Krule closely associated with themes of deep-sea diving, a metaphor for the depression and isolation he felt himself sinking into. If Krule was drowning on his last album, “Man Alive!” is him breaching the surface and struggling with the world he finds above.
The first two tracks “Cellular” and “Supermarché” use a punk rock sound to create the foundation of his world: a digital landscape with fearful headlines on every TV and cellphone where misinformation in the information age is our biggest threat. This leads into the third track, “Stoned Again”, an impassioned power ballad where Krule finds himself pulled into a cycle of habitual substance abuse, shouting at the sky in anguish that he can’t seem to break his bad habits.
The floating interlude “The Dream” provides a moment to breathe, with Krule pleading to "stop making sense of things" over a passive guitar riff and soothing piano. In the midst of dial tones and fading voicemails, Krule delivers glimmers of hope in his hazy world of despair, with “Perfecto Miserable” finding Krule painfully musing that he’s found someone that ”makes everything feel alright.” “Alone, Omen 3” provides a climax in the album, continually building to Krule’s final mantra of ”you’re not alone, you’re not alone, you’re not alone,” something that feels more like a reminder to himself than a message for the audience.
Halfway into recording this album, Krule found out his girlfriend was pregnant with his first child. “Man Alive!” reflects this as the album moves to the later half. The record begins in an angry, broken place, with Krule grappling with the world he is entrapped within.
He spends the second half seeking peace and stability in battling a manifested form of his depression on “(Don’t Let the Dragon) Draag On” and finding light in the darkest of places on “Underclass.” The album closes with the harrowingly barren “Please Complete Thee,” where King Krule takes stock of his reality, delivering a hauntingly peaceful plead for solace.
A poetic masterpiece that illustrates the looming underbelly of our world, the struggle of self-development and the quest for peace of mind, “Man Alive!” embraces the increasingly distorted reality it finds itself within.