King Krule: 6 Feet Beneath the Moon

King Krule finally drops his long-awaited debut LP, a beguiling late-night record bound to be one of the year's most indelible releases.

King Krule

6 Feet Beneath the Moon

Label: True Panther / XL
US Release Date: 2013-08-27
UK Release Date: 2013-08-24

The edge of late night and early morning -- somewhere between 1:15 and 3:30 AM. Preferably a weeknight. Six or seven blocks on the walk home without seeing another human person, even in a crowded city. Brown liquor, ingested readily but several hours before. Summer breeze in your face, humidity sapped from the day. These are the perfect atmospheric conditions -- internally and externally -- to enjoy King Krule’s debut LP, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. You’ll want to match the sublimity of the music with some sublimity of your own. It’s only fair.

Archy Marshall is young (didn’t you know?), only 19, and that has the music press understandably awed at his seemingly readymade talent and supremely confident songwriting. But once you accept Marshall’s considerable chops and outsized voice, it shouldn’t surprise you that a teenager wrote 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. Tapping into the heady romanticism that permeates every second of this record gets more and more difficult the further one gets from 16. It just happens that Marshall possesses a shockingly mature outlook and better taste than most 40-year-olds, and this helps him harness that youthful, starry-eyed filter and use it to create something intoxicating instead of the cloying mixture of self-aggrandizement and oversharing that marks most adolescent music. In other words, King Krule has come, blessedly, to sweep Wavves to the bottom of the ocean.

It helps, too, that Marshall has digested the new teenage music of London -- the haunted textures of dubstep, before Skrillex and the molly crowd sullied the genre’s good name -- and the old -- the snarl of Joe Strummer and post-punk’s love affair with flecks of reggae and dub guitar—in equal measure. Not that King Krule writes dubstep or punk rock. Rather, Marshall skims those styles for texture and attitude, injecting his jittery, jazz-lite rhythms and clean guitar with welcome wobbles of bass, swaths of negative space, and the grit of his incredible voice. A moment for that voice: as fluid as the contents of a bottle of cheap whiskey smashed in the street, a baritone capable of distancing with its ugliness and rounded vowels or bringing you close in moments where Marshall drops the affectation, it’s the centerpiece of the mix here and rightfully so. The expressiveness of the vocals adds flesh to Marshall’s skeletal songs.

Fortunately, Marshall’s lyrics hold up to the level of attention his voice will bring to them, impressionistic bits of lost romance and urban malaise, alternatingly crooned, growled, and spat in half-rap. His ear for rhythm extends beyond the stuttering groove of his technique with a guitar and into wordplay on the page and in the air. “Has This His” offers a good example, with Marshall’s voice ringing in reverb: “I know when I look into the sky, there is no meaning, / Girl, I’m the only one believing, / And though there’s nothing to believe in, / I’m dreaming, / My aspirations caught a ceiling / Where I’m constantly cleaning / The scars of your dealings.” He manages moments like these again and again, thrilling syllabic joyrides spread out over an hour and 14 tracks.

The highlights here feel less like individual songs than movements in a long composition, whether the sultry riff than anchors “Foreign", or the sleepy pleading of “Baby Blue", or the stark impact of “Out Getting Ribs". You could drop in on 6 Feet Beneath the Moon at any moment and let it unspool to its end, looping back to the start, and feel as captivated as you would at any other point of entry. It’s the type of record to weave itself into your own rhythms -- footsteps, breath, pulse -- until it feels like a part of your life’s texture. If that sounds melodramatic, remember: you were 19 sometime, too.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.