In late 2019 Archy Marshall broke a long silence by upping the short film ‘Hey World!’ to YouTube. Full of previously-unheard music, ‘Hey World!’ had many wondering whether a new LP from Marshall’s celebrated King Krule project was on the horizon. Now suspicions have been confirmed - Man Alive!, the third King Krule LP, is upon us.
This record is more focussed than its predecessor, 2017’s rambling The Ooz. While that album was an amalgamation of styles, Man Alive! finds Marshall spending more time in the woozier end of his soundworld. The vocal that characterised much of his earlier work is barely heard here, and bar a couple of antsy post-punk numbers in the album’s opening third the record largely shuffles along at mid-pace. Only on A New Place 2 Drown, the 2015 full-length that Marshall put out under his given name, has he sounded more cerebral.
The slower tempos allow the contemplative beauty that has always been a feature of Marshall’s work to take centre-stage for the first time. Always good for a jazzy chord progression, on Man Alive! we see Marshall more comfortable than ever with the more meditative side of his artistic voice. This results in a lot of tracks that come off like a more introverted and erstwhile take on bar-room-era Tom Waits, a postmodern lounge-ballad sound that is all the sweeter for the fact that you know Marshall is capable of giving us gruff angst when he wants to.
Man Alive! It’s a new King Krule album! And it’s his finest material to date.