King Krule’s Notes from the Underground

by: T.M. Brown

August 29, 2013

First of all, I’m sorry for starting this review off by talking about Archy Marshall’s physique. There’s no reason why Marshall, better known as King Krule, should be able to make the sounds he does. His mouth doesn’t look like it can support the weight of the tonal depth. He is a gaunt, lanky young man who looks significantly younger than his 19 years—a choir boy, maybe, or even a seraphin-voiced coffeeshop staple. But when he opens his mouth he is all cavernous depth, his voice coming from some belfry deep down in his gut. 6 Feet Beneath the Moon are notes from underground, set to music.

King Krule WILD music

King Krule’s newest album ties a string to his last offering, an eponymous EP put out back in 2011. King Krule was an introduction to his yawping sound without diving headfirst into the nether, the tracks were accessibly poppy but sounded like a singularly talented 17 year-old without the compositional chops to match. You can hear King Krule in 6 Feet almost immediately in “Easy Easy,” a minimal, droning tribute equal parts Strummer and Morrissey. It’s a beautiful opening, the type of track that closes a night with friends you won’t see again for a while.

It’s not all casket music, though. King Krule pays warm homage to English rock and the common artery running through the album pumps The Clash, the Smiths, and James Blake in equal doses. They merge well and faults are kept to simple dud tracks like the flaccid “Has This Hit?” that do all they can to pass quickly without interrupting the trajectory of the album. They’re boring without subtracting anything, the sort of tracks you might hit skip on your third or fourth listen but don’t feel like anything is actually missing.

The nexus of those historical influences yields something otherworldly, though, with “Neptune Estate” and “The Krockadile” spiking tunnel length guitar sounds with sparks borrowed from the excellent crop of young English and Scottish producers like TNGHT, Rustie, and Blake. What all those artists have in common is relative novelty, crafting neat little derivations of house and dubstep to create some exceptional new sounds. King Krule brings the same effort to more cobwebbed sections of music including the mothballed sound of soft burn Brit rock.

Some of 6 Feet sounds like deliciously unhinged bedroom pop, Shugo Tokomaru flashing a Window Licker grin. OK, maybe the bedroom is a little big, but the horns don’t sound out of place of “A Lizard State” like they do on later years Modest Mouse, another group known for layering influences into something novel. It’s dreamy without losing its heft, a special sort of daze that is so resoundingly English it would sound affected without the deep pipes and dragon-like slur. The world is inundated with music from the U.K. once again, King Krule is just proving the influence expands beyond the turntables.

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