Review Summary: "6 Feet Beneath The Moon" is a confessional, jagged masterpiece that refuses to be confined within the limits of any particular genre.
The best albums, I believe, are those that often leave you perplexed after a first listen. I suppose this is a phenomenon which can be attributed to the likes of any artistic medium. This is evident even within the literary canon, with seminal yet complex works like "Ulysses" or the often hard to stomach "Lolita". Accomplished and lasting works of art often challenge us in ways that at first glance may prove uncomfortable or unwilling to assign itself to a previous set of expectations.
I think it would be inappropriate to assert King Krule's "6 Feet Beneath The Moon" a classic in the vein of the literary works mentioned within the prior paragraph. Yet, nonetheless, 19 year old Archy Marshall's project is certainly a complex, dense, and challenging listen. This is immediately evident from the outset of introductory track and album highlight "Easy Easy," as Archy's guttural mutterings prove simultaneously rebellious as well as representative of an underlying human element that is often absent within the realm of contemporary music. The vulnerability present within this poetic lyricism often finds itself at odds with the brash, commanding voice placed at the forefront of the mix. Paying homage to Winston Churchill, Marshall croons on "Easy, Easy," "I keep my head down and my mouth shut, 'cause when you're going through hell / you just keep going."
And oftentimes that's precisely what "6 Feet Beneath The Moon" is- the journey through hell from the perspective of a nineteen year-old, scrappy English kid. But its the unexpectedly reflective nature of the album that often takes you by surprise. While the album seems at times rooted in the "Don’t *** with me" mentality of 80's punk, it is the contemplative nature of the song writing that lends an additional layer of depth and emotion to the proceedings. The blend of jazz, punk, hip-hop, and electronic aesthetics does not prove entirely seamless- but instead is rich with character and utterly engrossing on a multitude of levels.
The album's sonic landscape indeed deserves a greater degree of discussion. The jazzy guitar chords and down-tempo, electronic textures (which often utilize high-pitched vocal samples) compliment each other effectively, and the album feels most natural when utilizing these electronic textures in a way that emphasizes Marshall’s commanding, poetic verses. Yet it is hard to pinpoint exactly which of the various styles on display is the most effective. A case can certainly be made that the energetic, aggressive “A Lizard State” is perhaps the most unpredictable, exciting moment on the album. Marshall seems to have a comprehensive and dynamic understanding of the many aesthetic styles he works with, and the result is a varied and inspired affair.
Yet one might wish that "6 Feet Beneath The Moon" was perhaps a bit more restrained in its tendency to mix such a diverse range of emotions. It is a bit jarring to go from the testosterone driven “A Lizard State” to the melancholy “Will I Come.” Indeed- both are quality songs, but the lack of sonic unity lends itself to what becomes the album’s only significant flaw.
"6 Feet Beneath The Moon" is King Krule’s debut LP, and as such, it seems like a good sign that it’s primary flaw is its overly varied and sometimes inconsistent nature. There is enough creative prowess here to make this one of the most notable, innovative, and engaging debut releases in recent memory.