King Krule: Man Alive! (True Panther/Matador) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, March 30th, 2020  

King Krule

Man Alive!

True Panther/Matador

Feb 21, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Three years ago, Archy Marshall (aka King Krule) announced himself as one of this generation's most omnipresent and perceptive songwriters. On 2017's The Ooz, the then-23-year-old offered us a scuzzy, messy, caustic glimpse at his London-centric existence. The whole album clattered and meandered with the hyper intensity that so infuses and, in many ways, dictates what it is like to exist at the center of the UK's largest city. The hustle and bustle of the near nine million-heavy population offers both loneliness and escapism in its every day. Even the most mundane of days within the great capital can feel more energetic than the busiest that exist outside its parameters. When we last heard from Marshall, he was wrestling with where he saw himself fit in amidst the madness and the mayhem. A whole 36 months later, and he seems to be on surer footing.

Right from the offset, Man Alive! exudes a calmness and a contentment that is missing from its predecessor. The songs here work more like motifs and meditations on the trappings of modern life as seen from an outside observer, rather than the aggressively claustrophobic way in which Marshall told his stories on The Ooz. He seems less hurried here, and so the effect and beauty of the record is something that seems less immediate and less intense when, in all actuality, it is broader and more mature than anything he has done before. The root cause of this newfound ability to take a step back and assess things in a more relaxed manner can be explained fairly easily. In the intervening years since his breakout success, Marshall has become a father, relocated to the northern side of the Thames and almost completely broken away from the subdued and densely repetitive life he was beginning to lead in his native Peckham.

Songs like "Slinky" and closer "Please Complete Thee" raise their heads here, carrying a sound that would've never been seen on The Ooz, furthering this record's overarching theme of comfort and fulfillment. We see him emit a peacefulness of the soul here that wasn't ready to make its voice heard on his previous releases. You may assume that this newly realized satisfaction at his current state of affairs has left Marshall with little to say that is of any interest, but you'd be wrong. What Man Alive! does so well is to remain interesting and relevant and keep its listener intrigued whilst looking at the world, and more specifically the industrial and, in some ways desolate backdrop of south east London, through a less hyperbolic and exaggerated lens.

It really is an excellent record and one that will speak to Marshall's fans and detractors alike. Tracks such as "Stoned Again" and "Alone, Omen 3" offer solace to those who want a The Ooz Part II, although expect none of the political sophistication or unapologetic views that that record possesses as Marshall has made an active attempt to bury them on this latest work. Those who were put off by the brash, loutish exterior of his previous work will find something by which to be awestruck on cuts like "Airport Antenatal Airplane" and "Underclass." A something-for-everyone record that doesn't sacrifice any of its alternative, underground edge in the process is something that very few artists of Marshall's mould could pull off. And yet, on Man Alive!, a record that gets better with each passing listen, he has been able to quite comfortable achieve this. (www.kingkrule.net)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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