Artist To Watch: King Krule

Archy Marshall was a bit of a teenage prodigy in the U.K., bursting onto the scene in 2010 at the tender age of 16, performing as King Krule, a name taken from a Donkey Kong character. He was compared to a young Billy Bragg, as they both share a thick, Cockney-type accent, but young Marshall relied on a decidedly jazzy sensibility as opposed to Bragg’s folky idioms.

Two things immediately stand out about King Krule. One is his startling voice, a versatile baritone that doesn’t quite seem to fit with his endearingly dorky appearance, like he’s some kind of bizarro Rick Astley. Secondly, the guy can really write, listen for a few seconds to his lyrics and you’ll pull out some interesting beat-poet-inspired wordplay.

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This is clearly a very creative artist prepared to stretch out and take some chances. In 2015 he released a much more electronic-based album which had a definite hip hop vibe, and for what it’s worth he caught the attention of Kanye West and Beyonce with it. But the piano and ever-present saxophone, as well as his singing, ensured that it wouldn’t be confused with actual hip hop.

So with his new album The Ooz released just this week, King Krule has upped the ante on his musical adventurousness. Listen to this track “Dum Surfer”, it’s hard to describe but I think it’s bloody amazing and unlike anything I’ve ever heard (but the video is pretty gross if you’re not into the zombie thing). It starts off like Punk Bossa Nova and gets weirder from there. There’s a point where it’s almost like listening to two songs at once, but it’s got a fabulous guitar solo and it settles into a pretty fine groove, all the while spinning a tale like a modern day film noir.

There’s some real originality happening here. This is definitely an artist to watch.

Dum Surfer

Dumb surfer is giving me his cash
Won a bet for fifty and now I need a slash
Man this band that’s playing, is playing fucking trash
Skunk and onion gravy, as my brain’s potato mash
He came across the back of a bureaucratic stash
Shot the lot for credit and never got it back
He’s mashed, I’m mashed, we’re mashed
That cat got slashed in half like that
As Venus completes orbit, I’m feeling slightly mashed
The stir fry didn’t absorb it, I need another slash
She spoke in English, it was low lit where we sat
Remembering her face but that’s the end of that
I’m a step from madness as I puke on pavement slabs
Got a bit embarrassed, need to get back to the lab
In the debts of traffic, I was feeling like we crashed
With a girl from Slovak in a European cab
From a set of habits, I can see momentums mashed
If we were commuting, this train would fucking crash
Now my brain’s diluting with blame and guilt and hash
Getting lashed, getting lashed by all of the gods
By all of the gods, by all of the gods

[Verse 2]
As my brain’s diluting, I suffer from whiplash
This girl’s now screaming, I think we’ve gone and crashed
The driver’s speaking and the car is still intact
It was only minor, well that’s the end of that
Girl, that’s the end of that as I know
Girl, some things you don’t know

Dumb surfer, don’t suffer
Dumb surfer, don’t suffer
Dumb surfer, don’t suffer
Dumb surfer, don’t suffer
Ay, some things won’t change for a while
Keep me, keep me as the villain
But my prayer, you don’t own

Photo credit: By Henry Laurisch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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