I often read the influence section of an artist’s bio with a mix of amusement and interest. It can tell you so much about a band, though more often than not it tells you what a band think they are about, two very different things. With less seasoned acts it often echoes what the band aspire too, all too often a pipe-dream or maybe a template that they work from. With musicians who have been around the block a bit it is the more eclectic, seemingly scatter-gun references, to inspirations past and present that are the most interesting, hinting at strange sonic machinations and new ways of building and blending music.
The Zoo Kid is back! Well, I guess he never went away. It’s just with ever shifting stage names to match the differing styles he has explored, it is sometimes difficult to join up the musical dots in his career so far. So although ‘Neptune Estate’ is a teaser for what is only his debut album, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, Archy Marshall, to give him his off stage moniker, is certainly no new kid on the block.
Blending lazy trip-hop back beats with spatially aware piano riffs and occasional brass intrusions, the elbow room afforded by the music puts the lyrics right at the front of the song. In their poetic Estuary English, the vocals conjure a picture of a long walk home under a sulphurous street light glow through midnight’s deserted alleys and desolate, shadow land estates; the songs bleak emotions matching the empty streets.
Representing the contemporary end of a thread that runs back through artists such as Cuttooth, Portishead and Massive Attack, what King Krule does is refresh the template to match modern times – the detached romanticism and broken dreams of the botched and the bungled, the bored suburbs and the broken inner city, the soundtrack to a modern teenage life. He should know, for Archy Marshall is a barely 19-year-old London lad which makes his achievements so far all the more impressive, especially when you hear the musical territory he explores on the aforementioned debut album. A one trick pony he is not.
Whilst other 19-year-old artists are taking more obvious routes, Justin Bieber for the X Factor crowd and Jake Bugg for the mainstream who want to appear slightly cooler but who are essentially reformed Bieber fans, artists such as Archy Marshall and his many aliases are offering a viable and infinitely more credible alternative.