With his debut single “Out Getting Ribs/ Has This Hit”, King Krule (formerly known as Zoo Kid, but still the musical alias of 17 year old Archy Marshall) announced himself as the startling voice of a new generation; his unexpectedly deep and mournful baritone tracing fissures of disappointment and disorientation to devastating effect. Comprised only of his stark vocals, guitar and searing lines such as “and I’m the only one believing/ there’s nothing to believe in”, it was a bleak but brilliant treatise on the inchoate frustration and fury of youth, rubbed raw and laid bare.
Now comes his second release, and with it, an expansion of vision, both musically and thematically. The connective tissue between these 5 tracks is still Marshall’s lyrics of searing clarity, but over the span of the self-titled EP, there is an arresting sonic progression, as his songs open up to become a loose knit meditation on regret and discontent, loss of faith and renewal of hope, and optimism in the face of desperation. Opening track “Bleak Bake”, for instance, opens with twinkling keyboards and Marshall clearing his throat, before sampled strings swoon in and he sighs, “everything hits you in the end”. “The Noose of Jah City” drives the knife in deeper, with Marshall singing of being “suffocated in concrete” over a lushly upholstered backdrop of chiming guitars and beats, while in the gorgeous “Portrait in Black and Blue” he concludes, ruefully, that “time never gave me a chance…trapped in a lizard state/ looking for an escape”. But even though the subject matter may at times be harrowing, the songs themselves are never anything less than exquisitely crafted, possessed of an almost spectral beauty, as epitomised in the shimmering instrumental “Intro”. Taken as a whole, the “King Krule” EP is the sound of a young man growing up and attempting to grapple with the realities of the world he inhabits, and a fascinating, brutal journey it is too.
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