King Krule, the seminal musician from London, is one of those rare artists who has had an incredibly unique sound from the beginning of his career. His 2017 album, “The Ooz,” is wildly considered to be the best of his career. It combines elements of punk jazz and hard rock with grim undertones alluding to drowning and the grim reality of life.
He has some of the best production among musicians today. His distorted guitars cut through the mix as everything else compliments and expands upon it. His vocals are snarly and baritone, ranging from a howling scream to a low rumble depending on the mood and moments in his songs.
His 2020 follow up, “Man Alive!,” features King Krule truly digging into his sound. From the moment the song starts, he lets you know immediately that you’re listening to a King Krule record. The opening moments of "Cellular" starts with smooth bass lines and marimba-influenced cell-phone jingles in the background as he groans, “There’s a French girl / On my television / She’s crying in the palm of my hand.” The first five songs weave in and out of passion and rest, with the outros of each song builds in intensity right as the song seems to end.
Traditional song structures are left in the dust with "Man Alive!" Gone are singable choruses or bridges that take your breath away. In return are haunting bass lines which crunch and growl with speakers and vocal harmonies, which combine poetic verses and as he croons over aquatic undertones.
In “(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On,” the same drum beat and chords repeat for the entire duration of the song as he quietly sings three verses about being depressed at home while a creature prevents you from leaving. He leaves familiarity to create something entirely original.
He also wastes no time on creating the atmosphere of the record. Audible screams surround the background of every track, and instruments you can only hear with headphones pop in and out like an old friend. Synths are rare throughout the album, and when they arrive they are gloomy and melancholic with his subject matter. It makes the album darker and more realistic, while painting a portrait of his mind and how he has changed since his last album.
Anguish is everywhere on this album, which is another signature of a King Krule record. On “Stoned Again,” the reverb-filled guitars and out of tune saxophone compliment his every word as he sings “I’m stoned again / I’m high again, boy.” His regret over his decisions marks its territory with your ears as his canvas.
The album coincides as King Krule grows and changes with us as witnesses. He recently became a father with his longtime girlfriend Charlotte Patmore, and you can hear his anguish and fear over fatherhood all over the record. His fear over entering a new world of new experiences is palpable. It's an honest depiction of being a parent instead of the glamorization which is often seen in celebrity culture.
King Krule’s legacy as an artist is of a man who has changed with time and remains consistent in creating incredible albums, which reminisce over his emotional state in a way that male artists rarely can without being made fun of.
“Man Alive!” is a continuation of him exploring the inner depths of his mind while not compromising his sound in order to express the emotions he feels. Atmosphere is prioritized over catchy songs and relatable quotables, and emotion is prioritized over traditional song structure and memorable melodies. He makes his mark on “Man Alive!” and creates a beautiful and unique listening experience.