By Issa Nasatir
I went into this new year with very few resolutions to hold myself accountable to. Many were smaller things I’d like to work and improve on, but only one sat at the top of the list in all caps: WRITE THE DAMN KRULE REVIEW. So here we are.
For those reading this who know me, you know that King Krule’s music is incredibly important to me. His music, particularly his third studio album Man Alive, helped me bear the weight of the claustrophobic depression that many of us dealt with during the pandemic. The album came out in mid-February 2020, a mere month before all hell broke loose. It perfectly mirrored the isolation we all felt, eerily foreshadowing the many months to come. I used his music as a validation of sorts, a reminder that I wasn’t alone in my dreary melancholia.
As you can probably imagine, my excitement was immeasurable while standing in line at the Ogden Theater in Denver toward the tail-end of first block (yes this should have been published in October at the latest). The line consisted of all kinds of people who would all very soon unite around one thing: their love of Archy Marshall, a pale, skinny, ginger boy with the gravelly booming voice of a middle-aged chain smoker. Archy was backed by a lead guitarist, bassist, drummer, and sax player, most of them long-time members of his troupe. After a monotonous performance of elementary beats and simple lyrics by one-man knee-pumping opener Cooper B. Handy, Archy slowly led us into “Lizard State,” which quickly swept us away into his world.
Archy was touring in support of his fourth LP Space Heavy, released earlier last year in June. The album is his most mature to date. Rather than wallowing in sorrow and letting his troubles take control of him like on The Ooz and Man Alive, Space Heavy sees a grown-up, pensive Archy confront his problems head-on. He explores the many definitions and implications of space through a crumbling relationship with a partner. A stand-out track that displays his growth in maturity is the LP’s second single, “If Only It Was Warmth.” Instead of his typically loud, angsty tracks that exhibit his anger, in this song, he approaches it through a melancholic disappointment. Bathed in warm orange light, he lamented, “If only it was warmth that you have.” He adds a five-minute hauntingly personal intro in its live performance, howling, “All I want is to see you again.”
The second track on Space Heavy, “Pink Shell,” was the song I wanted to see live most, and it did not disappoint. Its jazzy dissonance and emphasis on the powerful sax of Ignacio Salvadores is hard to portray potently in a studio recording. In its live form, the track packed a punch, capitalized by Ignacio’s incredible energy. He was as much a star of the show as Archy. He ran rampant- jumping, screaming, playing anywhere from inches from the crowd’s faces to barefoot on top of the speakers on stage.
Archy compiled an immaculate setlist. It centered around Space Heavy, but he evenly dispersed fan favorites and just tracks that he had fun performing from all of his albums. These included a mix of tracks like “Dum Surfer,” “Cellular,” “Baby Blue,” and the unreleased song “It’s All Soup Now.” And of course, as his encore, he performed a beautifully cathartic rendition of “Out Getting Ribs,” eliciting screams just from the isolated strum of its first chord. From beginning to end, King Krule gave everything he had and left you wanting even more.