In the vast plains of existence beneath the darkened street lights and damp London rooms, King Krule is a calming, but smoking entity surrounded by clouded imagery. His third studio record as King Krule allows Archy Marshall to continue to find new places to drown as the midnight vibrations are orchestrated perfectly on Man Alive!.
While there is never going to be a separation between the beauty and the pain in King Krule’s sound, Man Alive! is a more lively and cohesive style than his previous record The Ooz. Where that record was able to experiment with the connection between daydreaming and static within the brain’s journeys, Man Alive! is powerful and fairly on the forefront for a majority of the time. With tracks like “Cellular” that open the record, King Krule is trapped in this 80s synth-pop crunch while the guitars and other strings draw a more desperate display. His voice is still one of the highlights of each of his records, forming a bond to the incredibly British linguistic form that is gorgeous with simple but layered production choices.
At times where Man Alive! is a more introspective and slowed approach, tracks like “The Dream” is fantastic in creating these familiar settings where the listener can sink deeper and deeper into their chair. Almost as if the world was losing its color and turning toward one grayscale appearance, King Krule transitions into “Perfecto Miserable” where his shouts stammer into this twisted cry of help that border between misery and humane. Much of Man Alive! has the listener continuing to sink in this quicksand with instrumentals that sneak up behind and push on the shoulders until the light begins to be completely withdrawn from sight. A death that is more comforting than alarming.
One of the final tracks holds “Underclass” at this last glimpse of the sunlight with a sandy instrumental that captures some foreign love that is unknown to the listener. Throughout the entire experience of Man Alive!, King Krule creates this push and pull dichotomy between the listener and himself. With tracks that show his screams, to the tracks that better display his delicate hand, every second spent on the record is enjoyable.
With a fair mix of downtime and an ability to create desperation from the sound, King Krule captures once again, what it means to sink into mud and eventually rise. Painting a bleak sky at moments, then a sunset in the next, Man Alive! is the most vibrant death one can experience in 41 minutes.