Archy Marshall, or King Krule, personifies a rainy day spent inside with a cup of English breakfast tea and a smoke, looking out an opaque window, regretting some decisions and validating others. In preparation for his new album Man Alive!, Marshall has dropped three singles beginning with “(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On” early this year, the droning single “Alone, Omen 3” a couple weeks later and most recently, “Cellular,” which will be the opening track on the 25-year-old English singer-songwriter’s fourth full-length.
“(Don’t Let The Dragon) Draag On” plays like an anthem for the experiential slacker. Bending the first few chords letting listeners swim into the beat at their own pace, Marshall teases with a wet guitar riff that leaves one wanting more while tackling thoughts of depression and existentialism asking himself “how many hits can one room take? // how many days can one whole make?”
The track appears to be a nod to a couple of pop-culture phenomenons that include Adventure Time and references René Laloux's 1973 piece, La Planèt Sauvage, a film in which humans are oppressed by a species of extraterrestrials called "draags." These aliens are blue giants, which explains his drowned out vocals ending the track with the last lines "you think these blue giants feel the same?"
“Alone, Omen 3” begins with incessant phone ringing that never reaches an intended ear — giving listeners the impression of undesired isolation, however, the message is contradictory. Marshall sings “the ache of thunder in the storms of your mind // soak it in for the rain will pass in time” passing along a message of hope and embracing individualism, finding yourself through the unpleasantries of everyday struggles.
The growling, static feedback hums along industrially as Marshall’s patented trip-hop, jazz-derived beats imitate a dream state of resting on a fluffy cushion in a cold, platinum cage. Alienated in this cage, he continues to enforce the narrative “don’t forget, you’re not alone.”
On “Cellular,” were introduced by obnoxiously electronic ambiance until greeted by a repetitive drum beat. Once the lyrics breakthrough, the shimmering sound of technical chimes rain down. Of the three singles. “Cellular” is the most upbeat but does not necessarily mean it carries the most positive message. King Krule sings his piece as the saxophone lightly tickles the airwaves helping listeners ease their way through the changing seasons.
Like the other two singles, "Cellular" speaks to ideas of isolating one's self in a bubble while losing connection with the outside world that is helplessly crumbling around us. The psychedelic cartoon video is directed and animated by Jamie Wolfe.
The first two singles King Krule released are featured on the short-film done in collaboration with his partner, Charlotte Patmore, titled Hey World! The sixteen-minute mood-piece featuring atmospheric colour pallets highlights four tracks expected from Marshall’s upcoming record, Man Alive!, which is expected to drop on February 21, 2020, through True Panther Sounds, XL Recordings, and Matador.
Because of the South London prodigy's prolonged presence on the underground music scene dating back to when he was fifteen-years-old and his newly found fatherhood, it is easy to forget Marshall is only 25-years-old. His priorities may have readjusted but that just might be the best thing for an artist that still has plenty of room to grow and continue to flourish.
“When she [daughter Marina] was born, she was the biggest expression of life and love, but I also lost some good people last year,” he says. “Those juxtapositions between death and such extreme life must have had an effect on me.”
Tracklist for Man Alive!:
3. Stoned Again
4. Comet Face
5. The Dream
6. Perfecto Miserable
7. Alone, Omen 3
9. Airport Antenatal Airplane
10. (Don’t Let the Dragon) Draag On
11. Theme for the Cross
13. Energy Fleets
14. Please Complete Thee
Judging by the singles released and the stark difference between the release of 2013’s masterpiece, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon and 2017’s low-fi classic, The Ooz, Man Alive! should act as a lovechild for both projects. Combining the spookiness of The Ooz and the ambient, sentimentality of 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, we can expect the most mature project from King Krule to date.