King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath The Moon (True Panther Sounds)
King Krule is the stage name of Archy Marshall, a British guitarist and singer. 6 Feet Beneath The Moon is his first LP. Interesting to note that this record was released on his 19th birthday. In a way, 6 Feet Beneath is both a monumental recording achievement and an unspoiled glance at post-adolescence. It’s rare to see such a young artist with both a set of balls and a genuine talent. We are a society in love with music, so long as it is cut from the cloth of the 80’s or some stagnant 90’s fad. Moving beyond hip-hop and post-rock seemed impossible even five years ago, but it’s happening. Younger artists like Krule seem to be finding a way around and above the stagnant separation of genres that have ruled the indie rock explosion of the last fifteen years.
I say that because I see Krule taking a different path. It’s not cheating when you take the time to perfect your craft. The long hours rehearsing and writing, of revision after revision. The endless hours of multi-tracking one guitar solo, just to get it perfect. Krule releases bedroom rock records, I’m not exactly sure what-the-hell genre he is although I hear the term darkwave being thrown around. Krule’s genre is hard to describe and pin down because it’s so obviously post-punk and post-hip-hop. His voice erases a decade and a half of mopey indie rock and drops you off somewhere else, some street corner that you don’t even recognize.
Remember when singers could sing without auto-tune? I do. And I’m too young to be asking ironic rhetorical questions. Remember when artists could sing and play? Joe Strummer? Todd Rundgren? Mark Bolan? Richard Hell? Those names ring any bells? Sure, there are plenty of famous assbags right now who sing and play guitar. But most of those major label, tanned guys in flip-flops can’t write lyrics to save their lives. They can’t get beyond simple love songs for moms or sever ties with “the purity of acoustic Dylan, mannnn”. Therein lies the problem, mannnn, the troubadour is going extinct. They are being killed off by handsome beach rockers with a degree in “Guitariology” from the Berklee College of Music.
King Krule is a kind of troubadour, but his lyrics and delivery of said materials is what really takes his music someplace special. Whether or not wants to admit it, he is highly poetic, honest and untamed. His over-processed voice is garbled with run-on sentences that either melt into outbursts or gently let you down.
As a guitarist, Krule has great style and tone, as well as an original playing style. As I said, it’s his lyrics that grab you. Buried deep in Krule’s lyrics are introspective tales of love rage and personal frustration. On “Out Getting Ribs”, he sings about being broken down and beaten. In a song that seems to be about hate and love, he tells a girl to hang on. He tells her that he is wasting away, but not to worry even though he is in such bad shape. He asks her to lay him down and mutters something about losing his crown.
“Lay me out across the gray, hours I should have kept at bay. I had no chance to get away, I can’t escape my own escape, even more when it’s sweet to the taste.” He sings. Krule must have a theme happening with black and blue, because either consciously or unconsciously he’s singing about the colors and the visual context on every one of his records. It’s on 2010’s “Out Getting Ribs”, 2011’s “Portrait in Black and Blue”, and here with “Baby Blue”. Later he goes on and on about “The darkest shade of blue” on the album’s closer, a hypnotic trip-hop ballad called “Bathed in Grey”. A number of his songs deal with defeat. The act of being defeated. The aftermath of being defeated, that hollow place where you can’t sleep or stop your racing thoughts. Territory he must know well, otherwise these lyrics would sound like complete garbage. Hey, isn’t there some famous quote about defeat? I think it goes something that goes like this, “Success comes on the heels of a hundred failures”. Something like that.
Speaking of “Out Getting Ribs”, this record features a re-recording of that song, which originally appeared in 2010 on a vinyl EP which he recorded under the moniker “Zoo Kid”. Usually I’m not a fan of re-recordings, but in this case I think he improved on the original. “I’ll make my last request. See this could be the best” he sings over a stuttering guitar loop.
6 Feet Under The Moon is being released by Gerard Cosloy (Matador Records) and Dean Bein (True Panther Sounds) on the True Panther Sounds imprint label. I can’t think of a better match up in recent memory. Hopefully Krule will make his way to the U.S. for some shows, where he will surely destroy the hearts and minds of flip-flop wearing mom rockers everywhere.
I admire how Krule just does his own thing and either remains oblivious to the naysayers or simply pays them no attention. To me, that is a sign of both talent and artistic integrity. Artistically speaking, we’re living at a time when most artists just copy other artists. That’s commonplace now. That’s expected now. Creating something from scratch is hard to do. In fact, it’s so hard to do that we rarely see it in action and when we do, our brains sometimes have trouble identifying it as such. For Krule, it’s not about sampling some ancient dub 12” and then layering some fuzzy vocals on top, then calling it good. That would be too easy. For Krule it’s about creation. Coming up with entirely new beats. Writing new lyrics, new guitar riffs. New reflections.