King Krule - 6 Feet Beneath the Moon: Album review
The distinctly British debut album of Archy Marshall is great—and not just great for a 19 year old.
Red-haired folks constitute a kind of oppressed class in the U.K. Take Mick Hucknall for instance: No matter how many number ones he racks up, the Simply Red (and lately Faces) singer will always be the butt of Steve Coogan joke. Righting this wrong is 19-year-old Archy Marshall, an incredible new talent raised in South London, young enough that he's managed by his mom. The lanky, red-haired and translucent-skinned Marshall, who went under the name "Zoo Kid" until he thought better of it, might just be the music messiah for the download generation for whom we've longed.
His debut album, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, is a breath of fresh air, that's for sure. On his first long-player, he traipses through sparse takes on various music styles—rap, punk, rockabilly and jazz—as if he's lived in them for ages, but all are mere backdrops for his hypnotic vocals and dense organic wordplay. He raps in that English style—more Tricky than gangsta—delivering rhymes in a rich baritone over beats and sounds that have rarely been joined together like this. Often the words keep spilling out as the tune fades out—Marshall doesn't want for words. On the tone poem "Cementality," he spits over electric piano chords like a Gil Scott-Heron disciple. He strums coffee-house chords and croons like a Sinatra and Chet Baker fan ("Baby Blue") over trash-can hip-hop beats.
His pissed-off, acerbic lyrics are bathed in a lonely reverb on the single "Easy Easy," which resembles the Libertines stripped down pre-supermodel dating phase. On tracks like "'William, Here I Come," the freeform hip-hop recalls De La Soul logged in to the Pirate Bay. But King Krule's best moments are uniquely his own—the garagey tremolo guitar on "Ocean Bed" might harken back to the glorious gritty Brit pop of the '80s and '90s, but when Marshall interrupts with a spoken narrative, it's like he's in every noir flick on your Netflix queue. "Deep sea diver, born Skyper" who "sees things simple" captures the weird but beautiful loneliness of youth like few have in 2013 or otherwise. It all culminates on "Neptune Estate," a dreamy, atmospheric rap over a smokey loop. It's great, and not just great for a 19 year old.