Pays : United Kingdom Label : Matador Records Genres et styles : Alternative Rock / Indie Rock Année : 2023

King Krule – Space Heavy

· par Varun Swarup

Archy Marshall, the musician behind the moniker King Krule, sits at the throne of a very melancholy kingdom. With his raw baritone and angsty guitar work, Archy has rallied many a loyal subject and made a distinct niche for himself as a brooding and sensitive artist over the years. While his latest offering, Space Heavy, is largely consistent with his previous work, it struggles to tread new ground or demonstrate tangible growth in the artist’s sound. A bit surprising considering how much Archy seems to have grown since he began his career at the age of 19 with the release of 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. 

The release of Man Alive!, three years ago now, saw Archy coming to terms with the birth of his daughter, and his relocation from his hometown of South London to the suburbs of Northern England. Now 28, a father of four years, on Space Heavy the traces of suburban living make themselves known lyrically, with frequent references to transportation and the anxieties surrounding love, parenthood, and just the state of things:

“The train line in Seaforth
We sit and watch the planet dyin’ up above
We sit and smile without concern
Now walk through shop centres together”

Sonically this suburbia seems to have resulted in a more slacker-rock sound, with loose guitar riffs, hazy and distant melodies, and a relaxed tempo setting the tone for most of the album.  While his previous studio efforts had more marked influences from trip-hop, darkwave, and post-punk, here it seems that family life has managed to take the edge off a little bit. This is actually a refreshing thing to hear, and a song like “Seaforth” is able to really shine in its gentle melancholy way – it certainly wouldn’t feel out of place on Crooked Rain Crooked Rain by Pavement. “Flimsier” too, the album opener, has a kind of Red House Painters vibe about it. 

The album certainly starts strong, and there is some variety on offer here. “Pink Slims”  for example bristles with raw post-punk energy and shows that Archy hasn’t abandoned his edge altogether. Still, across 15 tracks, one gets the impression that they are wading in a sea of melancholic sameness. At times it feels as if the songs are going through the motions without really connecting on a deeper level. Still, in spite of these shortcomings, there are some genuinely touching and musically satisfying moments that speak to King Krule’s strength as an artist. Space Heavy will certainly please fans, just not as much as it could have.

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