King Krule ‘6 Feet Beneath the Moon’ full stream and first impressions
Albums don’t really come out when they come out anymore. Between NPR First Listens and Pitchfork Advance and music leaking and whatever, music just comes out, like, whenever and then eventually you can buy it if you’re so inclined. I can’t complain though, I got to hear Ty Segall’s new album early and now I’m listening to King Krule’s debut LP “6 Feet Beneath the Moon” as I write this.
Last time I was talking about King Krule was in the context of Mt. Kimbie’s latest and greatest new album (and inevitable subsequent music video). But the 19-year-old Archy Marshall hasn’t been keeping quiet in the meantime. A few weeks ago we got the fantastic track “Easy Easy” which I’ve had on repeat for a while. And just Monday night came “Neptune Estate.” But as if the hype train hadn’t been building up enough steam, today we get a full stream of the album on King Krule’s website. XL Recordings says:
King Krule has hijacked CCTV cameras from across London to accompany the stream of his debut album 6 Feet Beneath The Moon. Listen to the album as it plays on a loop through night and day, and watch live feeds from the city streets. Things are being hidden within view of the cameras for fans to discover.
Which sounds pretty awesome, except I can’t get the King Krule site to work right now, so I’m just listening via the streaming widget (which is also at the bottom of this very post, if it works).
And I like what I’m hearing so far.
Some tracks see Marshall putting on his best crooner imitation whereas tracks like “Has This Hit?” feature Marshall’s gritty vocals at their most aggressive. The tension between Marshall’s appearance and his vocals is striking and intriguing but subsides eventually. What never goes away is the tension between the vocals and the music that accompanies them. One could imagine Marshall using his pipes for some sort of Death Grips-style ultra-intense hip hop tracks, but instead what we get is thoughtful, soft guitar tracks like “Baby Blue” with its barely audible drums, or, my personal favorite, the r&b meets jungle drums vibe of “Rock Bottom.”
That tension is what drives the album along. My brain never seems quite ready to concede that this gruff delivery could naturally accompany a softer track, and so each song is another instantiation of that experimental blend. Don’t get me wrong though—the result isn’t a stylistic clash for the worse so much as a unique combination that sets King Krule apart from the rest.
And as I’m writing about the slow tracks, “A Lizard State” begins in what must be the jazziest King Krule track so far. Marshall sing-talks rapidly (think, in some ways, early Arctic Monkeys) over a frantic jazzy beat with a surf-rock bassline and spastic horns. It’s out-of-nowhere, explosive, and totally different but the product is effective. This could easily be another single off of “6 Feet Beneath The Moon” and it only serves to show Marshall’s versatility as a musician—he seems capable of sticking himself in all sorts of musical environments and making them his own.
So far the only negative thing I could really say about “6FBM” is that it could probably tone down the echo. But then again, I’m not all the way through the album’s 14 tracks yet (clocking in at nearly an hour). “Will I Come” is a brief sample-heavy interlude of a track (something had to smooth the way from “A Lizard State” to the rest of side B). “Ocean Bed” puts guitar with playful time signature under a spoken word bridge.
“Neptune Estate” is an almost James Blake-esque track: A hip-hop beat underlies a piano groove on what might be the most conventional track on the album (and I say that in a good way). “I wanna be with you / I wanna be used / I hope you feel used.” It’s lyrically a dark track that keeps itself afloat with its piano riff base and one of the few sing-along choruses of the album. Some horns make a reappearance here but it always manages to skirt the cheesiness that horns threaten to introduce.
In a world where just about everyone and their mother seems to have an EP out, the debut LP can be a make-it-or-break-it for a lot of artists. The first full-length threatens to teeter between legitimizing an artist and wrecking them. For King Krule, to me, “6 Feet Beneath The Moon” lies firmly in the former territory. Marshall is versatile, effective, endlessly creative, not to mention lyrically fresh (when you can make the words out from under that great accent).
There are a number of standout tracks (“Easy Easy,” “Has This Hit?,” “Baby Blue,” “A Lizard State,” “Neptune Estate,” just to name a not-so-few) and yet no real boring filler (sorry James, I didn’t mean it!). Sure, he could’ve left off the older single “Out Getting Ribs” and still had a compelling forty-something minutes of material, but it doesn’t feel particularly out of place, so how can I complain? (Plus, this sounds like a re-recorded, much more hi-fi and full version of the track compared to 2010’s release).
Album closer “Bathed in Grey” is sits somewhere between the stripped down production of “Cementality” and the jazziness of “A Lizard State.” It’s a thoughtful coda, almost a lullaby, to a thoughtful album. Stuttering drums are mixed low underneath a light piano loop. Marshall harmonizes with himself near the track’s end which kind of makes me wish he’d done it more throughout the album. Marshall repeats a mumbled “Has this hit?” and just like that it’s over, almost an hour later, all too soon.
Then again, this is only listen number one for me. Maybe it’ll be a shrinker (that is, the opposite of an album which grows on you—cough, second James Blake album, cough), but I doubt it. Listen below if the widget’s not freaking out and give the official website a shot too since it’s probably going to be really cool when it works. At the very least, give yourself a taste.
“6 Feet Beneath The Moon” is out on XL on August 24th, Archy Marshall’s 20th birthday.