King Krule
King Krule



by danielsfrebirth USER (27 Reviews)
November 14th, 2011 | 2 replies

Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The debut from British teen musician Archy Marshall contains four and a half good songs that transcend the limitations of genre and age. Yet the album is much too short to be effective and too simple to be savored.

It’s easy to get caught up in an artist’s age. Aside from the song itself, one of the most interesting things about Zoo Kid’s “Out Getting Ribs” music video was watching 17-year-old London singer-songwriter Archy Marshall open his mouth for the first time and hearing an almost unrealistically deep voice issue from within. While Marshall’s cracked moan does sound strange coming from someone of his age, particularly one with such a thin and waifish figure, it also possesses a rebellious, punk-rock quality that could not sound as convincing coming from an artist over 21. As a result, Marshall is the target of a lot of “beyond his years” hype, which is both appropriate and somewhat demeaning--there is a strong risk that once you find out how old Marshall is, every subsequent listen will be tied to how amazing it is that a teenager could make this music.

Yet the best teenage artists are the ones whose music is so engaging they make you completely forget about trivia, and Marshall, now known as King Krule due to the rapid expiration date of any name containing the word “Kid,” is among these. There’s not a dull or unengaging moment on his self-titled debut EP, and the emotions Marshall communicates through his voice, lyrics, and the gritty soundscapes that howl in the background are universal. Even lines like “I lost my soul to the blues a long time ago” are not only convincing but hard-hitting coming from this young figure.

Marshall has a deep interest in hip-hop, as well as black culture in its various forms. (The last song on the album is called “The Noose Of Jah City,” and even “Out Getting Ribs” took its name from a Basquiat drawing.) According to interviews, he grew up on De La Soul and Gang Starr records, and his mother worked for Spike Lee’s production company in New York and designed the outfits for PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” video. Marshall identifies more as an MC than a singer (his actual rapping, both on Zoo Kid tracks and as his alter-ego DJ JD Sports, is lackluster at best), and though his voice recalls punk more than anything else, it certainly bears traces of a rapper’s tone. The instrumental tracks are closer to hip-hop beats than anything else, with sparse electronic drums, jazzy upright bass, and, on “Bleak Bake,” string hits that wouldn’t be out of place on an Odd Future track.

Marshall is rare among songwriters of his age in that his lyrical style is primarily one of evocation rather than storytelling or direct expression, but what is even more remarkable is just how good he is at creating these images. Most notable is his ability to evoke a distinctly “street” mood--the guitars sound as if they are echoing through an abandoned building with all its windows smashed in, and the ghostly hip-hop beats sound like snatches of songs emanating from passing cars. I do not know how much first-hand knowledge of the “streets” he possesses--I am willing to bet quite a bit, but if not, he imagines it more vividly and convincingly than virtually any other musician this side of Tom Waits. (Unsurprisingly, Marshall has found himself a strong candidate for the position of the recent London riots’ musical poster boy, and while he has not rioted himself, the position would suit him well.)

Yet these images do not stay in the head for very long. The King Krule EP is only twelve minutes long over the course of five tracks, and only “The Noose Of Jah City” exceeds the three-minute mark. Though the EP is likely only a sampler, King Krule is one of those artists who I could listen to for hours straight and never grow tired of, and when the album is finished, the listener is left unsatisfied, as if they have opened up a bag of potato chips, eaten five, and then had the bag taken away from them by force. Yet the music on King Krule is too simple (though certainly not in a bad way) to effectively savor. Marshall is not necessarily to blame for this--a listen to the King Krule EP in conjunction with Zoo Kid tracks is immensely satissfying, and chances are, a longer and better full-length is on the horizon.

Recent reviews by this author
John Lennon Rock 'n' RollI-LP-O In Dub Communist Dub
Erykah Badu New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the AnkhThe Residents Eskimo
The Other People Place Lifestyles Of The Laptop CafePink Floyd The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
user ratings (92)
other reviews of this album
"Being into graffiti you look at words as the letters, so I'd look at the aesthetics of a word and i...

Shrapnel94 (2)
I am confident that our generation could do better than this....

Comments:Add a Comment 
November 15th 2011


It’s easy to get caught up in an artist’s age.

Well, you spent two paragraphs on it >_>

Nice review, but break up those paragraphs. Shit looks like MissingNo

February 24th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

In what world is this comparable to Billy Bragg and The Clash?

Chill little EP, though

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2023
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy