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King Krule's live album is sobering, spontaneous

King Krule's latest album "You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down" packs a punch with raw vocals and powerful delivery. – Photo by Spotify.com

King Krule, also known as Archy Marshall, aligns with the artistic ambitions of his contemporaries but relishes in none of the gimmicks that they utilize. At 27 years old, his discography is more varied than most artists in his field, and his catalog is littered with classics that are distinct to him and his style.

Since his 2013 performance of “Easy Easy” on David Letterman, his musical output and career trajectory has only skyrocketed with time. His new live album, “You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down” expertly combines the aggression of his live performances and the atmosphere he creates with his band and instruments.

While examining the tracklist, it’s obvious how well Marshall knows and understands his audience. It’s an anthology of songs from his past three albums: "Man Alive!," "The OOZ" and "6 Feet Beneath The Moon." At 17 tracks and well over 1 hour, it’s one of Krule’s longest albums to date and his first live album.

“Emergency Blimp" packs all the explosive energy of the original while adding a raw punchiness to the drums and baseline. It carries a beautiful griminess that amps up the listener, as if he’s singing directly to them. 

A specific and haunting highlight on “You Heat Me Up” is “The Ooz." At 6:53, it’s the longest song on the album, but this gives it time to build these long waves of tension of release within the piece.

Howling sounds and distorted guitars filter in and out through the song and his voice feels like a beacon between the existential undertones of the instruments. The bass and saxophone wail as one as the climax of the song approaches and this synergy is present throughout the album. King Krule is well-known for screaming and howling in his live shows, and his recorded yells feel raw and spontaneous. 

“Slush Puppy" uses a vocal filter for the first minute of its introduction that makes it seem like Marshall is underwater, and its removal divides it into two separate sections. The arpeggiated guitars keep the song driven and steady and allow the band to jam into oblivion toward the end of the track. Most of his songs follow this pattern of tension and release.

“Perfecto Miserable” is one of the most sobering songs in the track list, and removes the full orchestration of the band. With only Marshall’s guitar, distorted background noises, and his voice, it highlights the isolation present in the lyrics and atmosphere. It’s one of Marshall’s sparsest songs to date, and as he sings, “You’re my everything/You make me feel alright,” it shines in its simplicity and honesty. 

Sonically, the album is cohesive due to its recording techniques and the tightness of his live band. With Marshall on vocals and guitar, James Wilson on bass, George Bass on drums, Jamie Isaac on electronics and Ignacio Salvadores on saxophone, they’ve been playing live together for years and are truly in tune with themselves as musicians.

The transitions between songs feel seamless and cohesive, King Krule’s voice is brilliantly on display in this album, and fans will be thrilled to know he’ll be pressing it on vinyl in December. 

In the age of the pandemic, “You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down” is a brilliant change of pace from most artists’ albums releases. There are few live albums that truly capture the essence of an artist, and this one is an excellent representation of who King Krule is today.

His fans exalt him as a voice of a generation, and his fan base brings together all kinds of different music lovers. This album feels like a symbol of his artistry and will be a testament for live albums in the future.


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