Matador Records XL Recordings True Panther Sounds
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
On Feb. 21, 2020 following critical acclaim and success of his 2017 album The Ooz, Archy Marshall, most famously known as King Krule, returned with the release of his third studio album Man Alive! Overall, the album laments Marshall’s experiences with new fatherhood and in his signature style, is composed of bleak and despairing lyrics. Man Alive! proves Marshall’s refinery of his craft as he takes audiences on an auditory flight in space where time ceases to exist and where humans inhabit liminal spaces.
Man Alive! keeps all the elements of The Ooz that put Marshall on the map as a stand-out artist. Marshall’s muddied vocals paired with sultry saxophone notes and techno beats prove versatility in bringing together an amalgamation of genres from no wave to post-punk to hip-hop to jazz.
“Cellular” opens the album and brings audiences into a surreal, synthetic pop environment as Marshall mimes, “There’s a television speaking to me / There’s a French girl / On my television / She’s crying in the palm of my hand /” “Cellular” sets an upbeat tone for the first half of the album with its poeticism and punk notes peppered throughout.
“Perfecto Miserable” is a perfectly miserable track as it laments Archie’s experiences into new fatherhood with his longtime girlfriend and photographer, Charlotte Patmore, as he groans about his love for his child saying, “You’re my everything / Make me feel alright / You’re the only thing /” The track is an introspective look on Marshall’s current place in life—straddling between spaces and finding his footing as an artist and parent.
The highlight of the album however, is “Underclass” as it reminds audiences why they fell in love with King Krule in the first place. Reminiscent of “Slush Puppy” and “Czech One” from The Ooz, the song opens with a plane taking flight and brings in a combo of smooth saxophone riffs with a steady beat as Archie’s drowned out lyrics echo underneath.
At 14 songs and clocking in at about 42 minutes, Man Alive! ends sooner than one would think—leaving audiences begging for more.