Aaron Frank once donated a mermaid to Billy Bragg.
When it comes to conveying genuine emotion through songwriting, few 18 year-olds are as gifted as London’s Archy Marshall aka King Krule. Last week, the Internet got its first taste of the ginger-mopped crooner’s debut full-length 6 Feet Beneath The Moon in the form of a sparse, meditative single titled “Easy Easy.” Anyone familiar with King Krule’s self-titled EP or his past releases under the name Zoo Kid will notice that “Easy Easy” continues in a similar lineage stylistically, but also provides a fuller embrace of the minimalism hinted at on tracks like “Octopus” and “Noose of Jah City.”
Marshall’s approach to arrangement and production may stand out to those steeped in theory, but his evolved melodies and vocal style demand the attention of the untrained ear. Listening to “Easy Easy” and his 2-hour mix for Rinse.FM, you get the sense that he gained much of his inspiration from growing up around an expansive vinyl library. Aired in October of last year, the mix is more apropos of a free-form station like WFMU rather than London’s electronic-heavy pirate radio. The dusty selections span decades, covering everything from new wave to jazz to reggae, with Marshall’s own songs fitting right in alongside.
Perhaps the most enamoring aspect of King Krule lies in Marshall’s lyrics and pained delivery. The simple guitar riff on “Easy, Easy” reflects something of a dour tone, but compared with somber ballads like “Portrait In Black and Blue” and “Out Getting Ribs,” the lyrics are actually quite warm and inspirational. After airing out a list of grievances that includes police harassment and dead-end jobs, he yells out, “Cause if you’re going through hell then just keep going.” Anyone else employing this familiar cliché would be easily mocked, but coming from Marshall’s gravely baritone, it sounds sincere, almost like a prayer. Older listeners might normally feel indifference to the trials and tribulations of an 18 year-old, but the idea of yearning for motivation to carry on with daily life has universal appeal.
As it turns out, “Easy Easy” is the oldest song in the young songwriter’s catalog, penned when he was only 12. 6 Feet Beneath The Moon charts Marshall’s progression through his teenage years and includes songs written from 2007 on. Seeing a shared release on XL and True Panther in September, it’s sure to become one of the most popular debuts of the year, already earning praise from fellow artists Beyonce and Earl Sweatshirt. Though Marshall has supplied a steady stream of music over the past few months with side projects under the names Edgar The Beatmaker and DJ JD Sports, he seems to have embraced his main gifts as a songwriter.