Easily one of my favorite records from 2021, You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down coming from King Krule is a collection of live works compiled into over an hour of digestible misery and emotional aptitude.
Archy Marshall, known by both his own name and stage name King Krule has sonically embodied the beauty of self-destruction and the growth within oblivion. You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down takes 17 tracks piled primarily through 2020’s Man Alive! and 2017’s The Ooz that quickly became a soundtrack for internal melting.
In a live setting, however, King Krule has this fantastic energy tied to the performances and brings new vitalization to some of his previous tracks.
Opening with “Out Getting Ribs” released originally under his moniker Zoo Kid, the nostalgia washes over the audience as cheers and claps collect while the guitar gently sweeps to bring in the rest of the band. Marshall who covers the guitars and vocals uses George Bass on the percussion, and absolute stand out on saxophone Ignacio Salvadores. Together, these two alone are integral to the live performances, orchestrating an acute sense of cadence but also new breath to the pieces.
Also featured are Jack Towell on the guitar, which brings James Wilson on the bass and backing vocals. Finally, there is Jamie Isaac who performs on the electronics and production. Noticeably, King Krule as a band formats to be this overarching behemoth of sentiment and tone on the following with “Emergency Blimp.”
One of the faster and more ferocious tracks coming from The Ooz, the concert rendition is one of the most lively displays coming from You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down. The guitar which is played in loose strumming and runs combines into bass grooves to form one iron-handed municipality. Overseeing the audience in the way an older brother does, “Emergency Blimp” is rough around the edges and based almost entirely off motion.
Through this motion follows Marshall’s extremely charming accent which is in a shouting match with himself at most points. He illustrates, “He said it hurts when he stares at lights, I guess my brain was full, indecision’s on the left-hand side. But the doctor said ‘it’s cool, just take these in the dead of night.’” As the percussion ramps and becomes nearly overtaking, Marshall continues on.
He describes, “These pills just make me, these pills just make me drool. I say these pills just make me, these pills just make me, these pills just make me, these pills just make me drool.” Directly linked to feelings of helplessness and paranoia, most of You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down is this pull and push of mental draining and wandering within these same four walls.
Other pieces follow to be “Perfecto Miserable” where Marshall sings so quiet and low that it is almost inaudible. Completely isolated and alone, he singles out the audience to not be a crowd but instead one large conglomeration. Moments like these are where King Krule becomes frantically beautiful and this realization of protection and seclusion.
When other instrumentalists are introduced on “Perfecto Miserable,” the sporadic horn notes and splashes of color collide into the speakers like a headrush in Manhattan. Lights spin in all directions, spiraling out of control until the segue of a dial tone brings “Alone, Omen 3” into the frame.
A wonderful transition brings the Man Alive! single “Alone, Omen 3” into the center stage where a house of mirrors reflects not just the individual audience member, but the coalition.
The build-up and instrumental here is one of the best displays on You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down. Marshall who becomes more of a monotone narrator here illustrates, “Take a dip, if you’re alone, take your time. Take a ticket, take the train to the end of the line. See where you can go, you spent it, it’s plastic, no do or die.”
Later, the verses become more of this mantra as the audience joins in to chant alongside Marshall, “Every minute, every second, you’re not alone, you’re not alone. You’re not alone, you’re not alone.”
Warping, descending, and eventually analyzing, “Underclass” is one of the last steps in You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down. The Ooz and Man Alive! were some of the most glorious instrumental records released of those years and they continue to impress even today. You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down follows suit, but introduces some reupholster to the style.
“Underclass” was one of the best tracks from Man Alive! and this was particularly based on the saxophone recording from Salvadores who returns on You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down to create the strongest solo instrumental display of the record. Something about the way that he can slide into this swell of sound and conquer the speakers is in the same way that a master painter can articulate this eloquence between the canvas through brush strokes.
Then through the spacious transition into “Energy Fleets,” the use of distance and capacity become the main tools for the record. Where Man Alive! and The Ooz are about how far life can sink, You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down is about how far the person can float and grow above.