“Man Alive!” is the third studio album from King Krule, the solo project of London artist Archy Marshall. Marshall uses a mix of the jazz, hip-hop, darkwave and trip-hop genres to create a distinctly dark sound.
Marshall has received praise and admiration from multiple industry leaders including Kanye West, Beyonce and Earl Sweatshirt. King Krule captured the attention of critics in 2017, with the release of his now well-regarded album, “The Ooz.”
Fans have been excited for “Man Alive!” after Marshall teased singles “Cellular” and “Alone, Omen 3” before the album’s release. “Man Alive!” by King Krule is 42 minutes long with 14 songs.
King Krule has extended his haunting sound in the album. If I had to use three words to summarize this album, I would describe it as ominous, melancholic and unique. Marshall’s pallet of music may not sit well with everyone but is a gem for those who can see the beauty behind the darkness. “Man Alive!” is a desolate album, displaying Archy Marshall’s deep melancholy through oozy layers of ominous sound.
While most of “Man Alive!” is dark and woozy, King Krule shows the versatility of his pallet with groovy and noetic tones woven within the sadness. Tracks like “Alone, Omen 3,” “(Don't Let The Dragon) Draag On” and “Underclass” highlight Marshall’s ability to produce groovy tracks with a haunting tone.
The tone throughout “Man Alive!” is cleverly layered with drums, bass guitar, electric guitar, occasional synths and Marshall’s unique voice. My favorite instrument throughout “Man Alive!” has to be Marshall’s use of the bass guitar. The bass is one of the key contributors to King Krule’s ominous tone.
Songs like “Stoned Again” and “Comet Face” feature faster paced bass lines that mesh perfectly with the vibe and feel of “Man Alive!”. Another key instrument is Archy Marshall’s somewhat eerie voice. The range of his voice is observable in tracks like “Please Complete Thee” and “Comet Face." The guitar and other instruments assist each other to create an imperfect tone that somehow forms a beautifully eerie sound.
All of these instruments mesh together to create the themes and motifs behind the album, a desolate and unsettling tone that depicts great sadness. Marshall regularly discusses 21st century topics in “Man Alive!” with songs like “Cellular” which compares losing connection to the internet on your phone to losing connection with friends and family members over time.
Many of the other songs address depression and anxiety such as “Alone, Omen 3” and “Supermarche." Marshall’s lyrics are disturbingly unfiltered and directly apply to the anxiety, depression and loneliness plaguing many young adults today.
My top three songs in this album have to be “Alone, Omen 3,” “Stoned Again” and “(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On.” All three of these songs create a distinct tone that blends solidly with Marshall’s central tone of melancholy in the album.
“Alone, Omen 3” features incredible bass sounds that mesh extremely well with Marshall’s lyrics discussing mental health and insecurity in the 21st century. “Stoned Again” features an ominous bass sound mixed with internal anger and conflicting thoughts on drug usage. “(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On” is a slower and calmer vibe where Marshall discusses supporting his listeners and his relationship with recreational drugs.
I think the best aspect of “Man Alive!” was Marshall's unique blending of instruments to form an eerie and haunting sound. The lyrics were truly original and relatable. The album art was incredible as well, displaying a surrealist painting of a man lying in water. The man on the cover even shapes out the letters M and A to represent the abbreviated form of the album title. Overall, I was very impressed with King Krule’s effort on the record.
I will admit, there were times when the album seemed a little too experimental. Tracks like “Slinky” and “Airport Antenatal Airplane” felt like forgettable filler tracks to continue King Krule’s unique tone. This is a tough album to jump straight into, especially if this is your first-time hearing King Krule. The album is also guilty of droning on a little too much and too often.
However, overall I am a big fan of this record and can’t wait to hear more from King Krule in the future.