Frank Ocean wants to work with him, Tyler, the Creator adores him and Willis Earl Beal listed him as an all-time favourite. So, when this debut album drops on King Krule’s 19th birthday, should it be a modern classic? Well, not immediately.
First track ‘Easy Easy’ (video below) is an obvious single, but it’s sonically bare and lacks the fathoms of lyrical depth we’ve come to (possibly unfairly) expect from young Archy Marshall. In fact, it’s not until fourth cut ‘Foreign 2’ that this LP really gearshifts into virtuoso territory, and the weaving guitar work, J Dilla-like beats and prehistoric wisdom of the Peckham lad’s mind finally float into view.
‘Baby Blue’ has been re-jigged, but still possesses the beatific waltz of a school-desk daydreamer. ‘Cementality’ continues this drifter’s pace, before ‘A Lizard State’ suddenly erupts with colourful avant-jazz and frenetic solos.
Marshall’s trademark growl has always endeavoured to portray raw emotion rather than that perfect note, but it’s clear his singing has been humbly honed into a whisky-burned baritone. ‘Out Getting Ribs’ is the most improved selection promoted from his 2010 ‘U.FO.W.A.V.E.’ collection. Archy’s plead of “don’t break away” is also more understated than the original, almost adding new meaning.
The album closes on ‘Bathed In Grey’, a poet’s paradise of rhyming tercets that paint a deathly ballad, all framed in soft piano, and the closing words reference track three, ‘Has This Hit?’, in a clever lyrical reprise.
British music fans should gaze upon King Krule with great pride. Under immense expectation, he has managed to become the product of his far-flung influences, rather than a pastiche of any. And that is a new sound in itself. Happy birthday, Archy.
Words: Joe Zadeh
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