We’re going to do two reviews a week here – one of a new album (less than a year old) and one of an older album. We also thought it’d be cool if our reviews took the form of a discussion, with humor and personality, rather than a dry essay. Our new album review this week is of King Krule’s album 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. Click “continue reading” to check it out.
King Krule is a 19-year-old guy from London who has been making music for a few years under the name Zoo Kid. He recently changed that name to King Krule and just came out with this album, his debut. He plays a very moody, sparse type of music that’s equally influenced by Billy Bragg, jazz, and hip-hop music.
Oscar: OK. So, why did you pick it?
Zen: Because I’ve liked most of the things that King Krule/Zoo Kid/whatever other name he has gone by has put out, yet I kept forgetting about him. It’s nothing personal, I just kept forgetting he existed. So when I heard his debut was coming out I thought I should probably become better at remembering things and listen to him. Cause he has talent.
Oscar: So, guilt.
Zen: I mean, you could call it that. But I wouldn’t call it that.
Oscar: Ah, I see
Zen: What were your thoughts on the album?
Oscar: I was a little disappointed. I thought it was a solid effort, I liked most of the songs, but it lagged at points and I wished there was more variation. Even down to the rhyming techniques he uses, he rehashed a lot of them throughout songs.
Zen: I share those complaints. And while I love alt-jazz chords played on guitar, you’ve got to at least hit those chords in a different strum pattern once in a while.
Oscar: So not a stellar debut in my opinion, but a solid one and definitely a statement of his talents. I’ll get his next one.
Zen: I wouldn’t wait in line to get his next one, but I’d definitely order it off Amazon.
Oscar: By “get” I meant illegally download, as I did with this one.
Zen: I was underwhelmed by a lot of the lyrics, and the only reason I didn’t hate a lot of the lines was due to his very unique way of singing, but if I had read them on paper, a rant would have been given about why I dislike them.
Oscar: I’m glad we averted that. So what were your top 3?
Zen: In no order: “Border Line.” It combined all the things he’s great at – vaguely hip-hop beats, impressively voiced jazz chords soaked in reverb, and being depressed about life and women. And while that all might sound like I’m mocking him, he does those things terrifically.
Zen: “Neptune Estate” would be my 2nd. Ever since you showed me that song, I’ve been bumping it and trying to copy his accent so I can sing along. He really shows his talent at composing a song with that track. The layers of guitar, horn, repeating looped vocals… All of it morphs into this original and beautiful thing.
Oscar: I agree.
Zen: I also thought his semi-rapped verses were interesting. I’m not sure I’d approve of him going into the rap game, but I enjoyed it in this context. “Out Getting Ribs” would be my 3rd. although I’m not sure if that was put on as a bonus track. I don’t think so. Being a singer/songwriter I’m always impressed by people who can buck that stereotype and make honestly soulful tunes. It’s also a nice showcase for his guitar playing. He’s got a great feel in that song with his guitar without ever becoming like he’s masturbating how good he is.
Oscar: He definitely does a lot more with the guitar than usual there.
Zen: What were your top 3?
Oscar: Number one was “A Lizard State.” It was so angry and funky. I thought he broke the mold the most there, and I love his hurried singing.
Zen: That was my 4th. Good choice.
Oscar: We’ve been bumping that a lot on the porch this week.
Zen: You all get ZAPs
Oscar: I’ll be sure to tell everyone.
Zen: I’m sure they’ll be dumbfounded.
Oscar: That’s the only response I’d imagine. Number 2 is “Neptune Estate.” You said a lot of the things I liked. Also, I think it exemplified the emotional tone of the album in a tighter package. It’s as if he’s been robbed of his emotions for most of the song and the sax comes in and it’s clear that he’s actually in a good amount of despair.
Zen: Well said. That’s actually kind of how I feel about his singing/lyrical delivery. As you said, it’s as if he’s been robbed of emotion for most his life and only recently gotten it back. A lot of the words sound painful coming out of his mouth.
Oscar: Good point. Number 3 is “The Krockadile.” It was sort of a mixture of my top 2. Jazzy and more lively than others, but not as frustrated as “A Lizard State.”
Zen: Yeah, that’s a great tune. Bottom 3?
Oscar: “Baby Blue” is anemic, as is “Cementality.” That’s when I felt the album dragged the most.
Zen: Yeah. I just, I just couldn’t deal with those.
Oscar: Which is part of why I liked “A Lizard State” so much – I had almost given up and then it came in and fucked me up.
Zen: It had the same effect on me.
Oscar: My third bottom is “Foreign 2.” I liked the production, but it just didn’t seem like a tightly-crafted song.
Zen: And when he said “watch me burn alive” I just wanted to throw a box of tissues at him
Oscar: One by one.
Zen: Of course.
Oscar: What were your bottom 3?
Zen: “Bathed in Grey.” It should have ended on “Out Getting Ribs.” “Bathed in Grey” was a real test of the listener’s patience.
Oscar: I felt similarly.
Zen: It lagged and I kept waiting for the album to end already.
Oscar: I would have ended on “The Krockadile,” but that would have been too much of a light note for him, I suppose.
Zen: Yeah there wasn’t enough depression in that to end on, come on. “Baby Blue” is my 2nd. Same reasons. Then “Cementality,” but I really disliked bits of “Easy Easy.” The line, “When you’re going through hell, you just keep going,” I couldn’t deal with, and thought he could have opened with “Border Line.”
Oscar: That’s a shitty line.
Zen: That’s the one that almost started my rant, but I figured it was too early in the album to begin such hatred.
Oscar: That was good of you.
Zen: Thank you. Favorite moments?
Oscar: Musical is the saxophone on “Neptune Estate.” I mostly said why earlier, but it was just such a perfect touch.
Oscar: Lyrical is from “A Lizard State.” I’m going to look it up on a site just to make sure I have no errors whatsoever – “you’re a bunch of fucking fat bitches, motherfucking fat bitches”
Zen: And what about that beautiful line made you like it so much?
Oscar: It was pretty unexpected and hilarious. It’s just so petty.
Zen: I liked that it had some humor. It helped make his persona much more likable.
Oscar: Agreed. What were your favorite moments?
Zen: All the little touches of guitar playing in “Out Getting Ribs,” and lyrically, the repeated vocal line in “Neptune Estate,” “I want to be with you, I want to be used”
Oscar: Good choices.
Zen: I was incredibly impressed that he didn’t annoy me with that line and managed to make it feel genuine and emotional without being cliché. Very impressed by that. Final score?
Oscar: 6.7. I think he’s talented, has a unique sound that may influence other acts for the better, I’m glad this album is out and has been getting the attention it has, but it really just fell a bit short.
Zen: I wish I could argue with that because I really do wish him the best and agree with all the good things you just said about him. I’m the same score. I tried thinking how I could bump it up higher, but there were too many songs on the album that felt half baked, or that the album would have been a lot stronger without, to give him more decimals.
Oscar: I agree with that. It could have used a month or two more in the studio.
Zen: Any last words?
Zen: Me neither.
Get 6 Feet Beneath the Moon here, and come back next week for our reviews of Nine Inch Nails’s Pretty Hate Machine and Danny Brown’s Old.