Man Alive! – King Krule

The direction in which King Krule has taken his music since The Ooz is one of a dark, brooding territory. As he snarls over jazz-punk instrumentals and claustrophobic sounds, it’s hard to describe what this kind of music invokes yet it inexplicably pulls upon something in the consciousness. It’s ugly in its swampy, dense sounds but there’s always something strangely pretty about the swirl of palettes mashing together. It calls to underground, murky atmospheres of desolate cities and the abyss of nighttime. Man Alive! takes these themes from The Ooz and gives them a little flair: brighter tones of emotion and splashes of color among the themes of depression and isolation. Lost in this world that swallows one whole, Archy searches for answers in his overwhelming loneliness. Plunging into the depths of his psyche and emotions, we find glimpses of optimism in the foggy waters. On “Alone, Omen 3”, Archy reflects on the birth of his daughter and how time heals all wounds. Surrounded by a crisis of existentialism and dread, Archy manages to latch onto the important things and stabilizes himself. The sinking feeling of The Ooz no longer feels like a fight against the current: he has found a way to climb out.

Each track melts into one another as they blend unfamiliar sounds with Archy’s deep growls. There’s a more dreamy atmosphere in this record as if Archy is grappling with abstract thoughts and emotions in his head. Everything about this record feels surreal but never to the degree of confusion. Nothing about the experience feels concrete yet Archy’s cavernous voice acts as a guidepost in the sea of darkness. There’s a sense of realness, a grounded feeling in the music that nevertheless threatens to swallow us whole.

Man Alive! is an interesting extension of the themes that Archy built up in The Ooz. It reflects a new mindset for him: his wife and daughter giving him a new sense of purpose in his cloudy emotions. Though there are weaker moments in individual songs compared to The Ooz, they work together much nicer, giving a fuller picture of Archy’s thoughts. There are times when the music drifts aimlessly and while it helps some pieces fit together better, there isn’t a lot of variety in the textures of the sounds. The lack of structure holds it back from achieving the heights of his previous work but it remains an interesting addition to his discography. Nonetheless, Man Alive! is an engaging dive into the grimy, ugly aspects of the human condition that still make way for beauty every now and then.

Must Listens: “Alone, Omen 3”, Cellular, Perfecto Miserable


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I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

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