Album #51: King Krule – Man Alive!

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: London, England
  • Label: XL
  • Best Track: Stoned Again

I’m a bit too rural and dorky for rap and/or hip-hop, but that doesn’t mean I won’t give it a go.

I heard King Krule’s ‘Comet Face‘ on 6 Music last week and thought it sounded worth a spin. The more bass the better with this kind of music, as far as I’m concerned. I love the rough, foreboding basslines on this track, reminiscent of Andrew Fearn’s contribution to Sleaford Mods.

Still only 25 years old, Man Alive! is the fourth album from the punk and jazz-influenced rapper, real name Archy Marshall. From the odd bits of his previous work I’ve heard, this album could be described as a little more dark and ‘heavy’.

I love the first four tracks on this record for that reason. They’re boisterous, they’re aggressive, they’re… punk. ‘Stoned Again’ is superb, as Marshall growls and spits his way through its caustic, cyclic lyrics.

Drug and alcohol abuse, and the desperation and paranoia that comes with it, is a recurring theme on an album that never loses its gloomy but threatening edge. After ‘Comet Face’ though, it becomes a little more passive. I can still appreciate it, but it doesn’t quite hold my attention in the same way.

There are still tracks that stand out for me, like the disorientating ‘Alone, Omen 3’, and the hard-edged saxophone laments and traffic noises of ‘Theme for the Cross’, leading into the bluesy and jazzy ‘Underclass’. I really like the bleak poetry of closer ‘Please Complete Thee’ too – an ode to the numb feelings of lost love.

I don’t want to be critical of King Krule at all, because although not all of the album does it for me, I can see the artistic merit throughout. The depth, diversity and originality of his work, especially at such a young age, can only be admired.

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