Music Reviews

"Man Alive!" Showcases King Krule's Opposing Personas

On Archy Marshall's third album as King Krule, his misery clashes with new responsibility.

The music of King Krule feels plucked from some sort of abstruse underworld.

Throughout the three albums under his royal moniker, the young South London musician born Archy Marshall has always leaned on his own misery as a driving force. His new record Man Alive!, however, was composed under slightly more celebratory terms; in the middle of making the album, Marshall found out that he was going to be a father. How does one reconcile, then, with such chronic anguish in the shadows of these life-changing obligations? Man Alive! quests for an answer.

All the tenets of a King Krule album are here: Marshall's vehemently monstrous howl and his abstract take on typical indie rock. What sets Man Alive! apart is that now Marshall is in love. "You're the only thing that makes life worth," he croons on "Perfecto Miserable," with such conviction that there's no doubting he really feels it. He begs for the companionship of his other half on the spare, somber closer "Please Complete Thee," in the wake of "everything just constantly letting [him] down." His words have rarely come off so gut-wrenchingly dependent.

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The album's more desolate front half boasts some hip-hop qualities. The chugging bass of "Stoned Again" feels indebted to '90s rap royalty, as Marshall's conversational delivery even approximates a freestyle flow. The following track "Comet Face" is driven by an anxious electronic beat, as Marshall retells a story of waking up battered after a violent encounter in his native South London. Here, we have King Krule's rawness distilled.

Man Alive!'s latter half is the more tender side of Marshall, singing of self-medicating his woes and waiting for his mental "storms" to pass. Tracks like the stunning "Airport Antenatal Airplane" and early single "(Don't Let the Dragon) Draag On" captures a dreamier aesthetics, while others like "Theme for the Cross" and "Underclass" feature delicate saxophone solos. The album's two sides mirror conflicting personas in Marshall himself: the precociously distressed teenager who put out the first King Krule EP in 2011 versus the responsible 25-year-old—the longtime partner of photographer Charlotte Patmore and the father of their child. Those two personas aren't so mutually exclusive, after all, and Man Alive! presents Archy Marshall at his most complex.

MUSIC

Unconfirmed Albums We're Hoping for in 2020

Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber, Charli XCX, and more.

We've already been over a handful of the new albums 2020 will definitely have in store for us, but there's surely plenty more where those came from.

In addition to the plethora of albums we know for sure are coming out in the new year, many artists have given subtle hints that they plan to release new records. None of these have been confirmed, but we've compiled clues to round-out our list of probable records we're dying to hear.

Justin Bieber

The Biebs has confirmed JB5 is coming in 2020, although the details still remain under wraps. We can predict that the album will feature the song "Yummy," a new single expected to drop January 3. It'll be his first LP since 2015's Purpose.

Haim

Sister trio Haim have released a steady stream of new singles this year, including "Hallelujah." All signs are pointing to a new album in the new year. It would mark their first full-length since 2017's Something to Tell You.

HAIM - Now I'm In It www.youtube.com


Soccer Mommy

Sophie Allison became an unignorable force in indie rock upon the release of her debut album as Soccer Mommy, Clean. She's released a couple of new singles, including "yellow is the color of her eyes," and it seems a new record is on the horizon.

Soccer Mommy - lucy (Official Audio) www.youtube.com


Hinds

Spanish rockers Hinds released their second album, I Don't Run, in 2018, and they're due for a follow-up. They released a new song this month called "Riding Solo."

Hinds - Riding Solo www.youtube.com


Kali Uchis

Kali Uchis dropped one of the best R&B albums of 2018 with her debut LP, Isolation. She just treated fans to a new song, "Solita," which leads us to believe that a new album might be imminent.

Kali Uchis - Solita (Official Video) www.youtube.com


The Weeknd

The Weeknd recently released two new singles, "Heartless" and "Blinding Lights," and it seems a follow-up to 2018's My Dear Melancholy might be on its way.

The Weeknd - Heartless (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Charli XCX

2019 saw the release of Charli XCX's third studio album, Charli, but it appears she's ready to dive right back in. "i think i want to release 2 albums next year... or at least MAKE 2 albums next year," she tweeted in November. "i feel very inspired at the moment."

King Krule

UK experimental rocker Archy Marshall, better known as King Krule, released his magnum opus The Ooz back in 2017. He just recently followed it up with a short film he wrote himself called "Hey World!" that features four new original songs.

Hey World! www.youtube.com


Kendrick Lamar

If you ask us, Kendrick is one of the decade's defining artists. If the rumors are true, it looks like he'll be starting the 2020s on the right foot. Fans are speculating that the accomplished rapper will release his follow-up to 2017's DAMN. in the new year.

Iron Maiden

Clues have circulated suggesting that the heavy metal legends will return with their 17th studio album in 2020. Their latest, The Book of Souls, was released in 2015.

Sky Ferreira

OK, so maybe this one's a long shot. Sky Ferreira has been promising a follow-up to 2013's Night Time, My Time for so long that it almost seems like a lost cause at this point, but 2019 saw rare festival performances from her and even a new single, "Downhill Lullaby." We won't hold our breath, but we can still dream that SF2 is on its way.

Sky Ferreira - Downhill Lullaby (Audio) www.youtube.com