Tuesday, November 8, 2011
King Krule — King Krule EP
What do you say about a release like this?
Every once in a while, something comes along that just doesn't fit. Sure, it may not sound totally revolutionary in the bigger picture, but when the context is considered, it just seems wrong.
Before going any further, I should point out the main thing: this young man is only seventeen.
He does not have a good singing voice. He does, however, have one of the most refreshing songwriting talents I've heard come out of Britain in recent years. Where the country's music still seems to be mostly planted in the looming shadow of Brit-pop's rockstar obsessed smartass culture, Archy Marshall looks completely inward and towards his heart for direction. As a teenager in post-post-Thatcher Britain, it seems like he's just disappointed with an outlook that simply accepts one's unsure surroundings while trying to continue forth life as a regular human being.
Oh, and he has incredible tunes, too.
I mean, honestly, I've not heard a stronger argument in a long time for the side of "Well, some people are just naturally born with talent."
The thing the dominates all of the EP's thirteen minutes is the fantastically jangly tone of Marshall's guitar. Sure, there is some post-production and whatnot that adds heavier reverb and a slight hint of noise to the songs, but ultimately, his jangly guitar is right up front next to his out of key baritone vocals.
And his words are just as important as anything else here. Truly, he sounds like a man at least twice his actual age. While the dramatics may take you to the edge of sadness while realizing that a person so young has lived and seen more than anyone his age should have, you will find a twisted redemption in his ability to articulate.
A song like 'Portrait in Black and Blue' simply doesn't make sense coming from a seventeen year old. But, somehow, there it is. The opening instrumental '36N63' and the short track 'Lead Existence' pack more maturity in their collective three minutes than some other bands have been yet to achieve after several albums of material.
The closing track 'The Noose of Jah City' is clearly the highlight and the most unique thing here. Amidst a sparse (but affecting) Fender Rhodes chord progression, light guitar arpeggio and simple drum loop, the song builds into a thing of sheer beauty. Its meaning is a bit unsure, but it ultimately seems to be about finding nothing but disappointment in a burgeoning world to a young mind. This sort of thing might be tedious under certain circumstances, but in Marshall's world, this is the foundation on which inspiration can build a masterpiece. I can't stop playing it.
If nothing else, the whole thing reminds me of early Aztec Camera in the best possible way.
PS— Marshall's early recordings from last year under the name Zoo Kid can be found here. They are just as good (if not a bit more rough).