It’s really difficult to choose a favourite project from musician King Krule. As King Krule, certainly his most known pseudonym, he has released 3 phenomenal albums in a row and a great EP which would already make it difficult to pick favourite; but those with keen eyes (and maybe too much free time) will know that Archy Marshall’s music goes far deeper than his work as King Krule.
The most well known of his other names is most likely Zoo Kid – a name Marshall used for King Krule before eventually changing it in the early 2010s – and a name that he used to release his recognisably unique merging of art rock, trip-hop, jazz and punk in its early stages. Amongst his other names there is DJJDSports, a very early project which Archy used to produce hip-hop beats for his friends; and Edgar the Beatmaker who, again, made hip-hop beats and got his friends to guest feature over them. However, the best of all of Archy’s names that aren’t King Krule is, ironically enough, the one and only project to date that he has released as himself.
At one point, Archy described that King Krule is not himself, but a darker version of him that he uses to express certain parts of himself, and so one has to assume that here Archy is being himself in a way otherwise unseen by his listeners. And so, this mellow hip-hop victory lap becomes all the more emotional as it details Archy’s feelings about growing up in London and trying to get his love life together. The beats, all produced by Marshall, are intricate and beautiful – they buzz with bass, the sparse drums almost sting the eardrums and the standout beat, belonging to ‘The Sea Liner MK 1’ gloriously progresses from low horns to a unique cacophony of various sounds that complement each other perfectly in spite of their variation.
The lyrics throughout are terrific, too. Whether it’s the bluntly honest opener ‘Swell’, which sees Archy speak about losing his lover and finding ‘a new place to drown my sorrows’; the hedonistic ‘Ammi Ammi’, which portrays the relationship before it fell apart (‘She plays me Barry White, all night, as we drift into the light’); the utterly heartbreaking ‘Dull Boys’, which details the end of the relationship from a detached perspective (‘Somewhere along the lines, she must have felt disconnected (…) well, what can you expect, kid?); or the seven minute grand finale ‘Thames Water’, which sums up the mood of the record by explaining London as an inescapable hellscape that people fall victim to.
As with anything Archy has done under any of his many names, A New Place 2 Drown is a moody masterwork with a dazzling soundscape punctuated by his trademark deep voice and strong British accent. It’s just great to see him try something so different from his work as King Krule here, and he doesn’t falter at all in the process.
A New Place 2 Drown is distributed by XL Recordings. Listen to the introductory track, ‘Swell’, on YouTube below: