King Krule is the primary alias of Archy Marshall, a native Londoner whose peculiar combination of grim if wit-peppered songwriting and volatile baritone vocals drew early comparisons to disparate punk forebears such as Joe Strummer and Shane MacGowan.
Marshall was merely a teenager when he was likened to these and other figures who didn't hit their stride until their mid-twenties. It wasn't long before Marshall made his individuality apparent with elements of no wave, punk jazz, dub, and hip-hop gradually permeating his sound -- one further distinguished by his jagged style of rhythm guitar -- and adding color to his poetic gutter narratives. In addition to his mid-teens output as Zoo Kid and a later recording under his birth name, Marshall has released three albums as King Krule: 6 Feet Beneath the Moon (2013), the Mercury Prize-nominated The Ooz (2017), and Man Alive! (2020).
Originally from Southwark, Marshall was raised by artistic parents. He is the godson of drummer Dave Ruffy (Ruts), and as a youngster regularly saw his uncle Ollie Howard play in a ska band called Top Cats. Marshall was writing and recording before the age of 12, and at 14, in 2008, entered Glastonbury Festival's unsigned artist competition. In 2010, under the name Zoo Kid, he released the digital download-only U.F.O.W.A.V.E. EP, from which two songs -- "Out Getting Ribs" and "Has This Hit" -- were issued on 7" vinyl by the House Anxiety label. Marshall then dubbed himself King Krule, after King Creole, a film starring Elvis Presley, and in 2011 returned with a self-titled EP for the Matador Records-owned True Panther Sounds. The next year, he released a one-off single for Rinse and was longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2013 (won by HAIM).
After he signed a U.K. deal with XL Recordings and performed at Glastonbury, Marshall completed his debut LP, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. Issued in August 2013, on his 19th birthday, it combined previously released material with new songs highlighted by "Easy Easy," "Baby Blue," and "A Lizard State," and peaked on the U.K. album chart at number 65. It also registered on the Billboard 200 in the U.S., where Marshall continued to be supported by True Panther. He then collaborated with his brother Jack for A New Place 2 Drown, a comparatively fluid and more electronic set of recordings -- issued in December 2015 with a book of poetry, photography, and art -- credited to Archy Marshall rather than King Krule. At this point, Marshall's extracurricular recordings included featured appearances on songs by Mount Kimbie, Ratking, and Trash Talk.
A sequence of disparate previews -- the dreamlike ballad "Czech One," the midtempo rocker "Dum Surfer," and the rumbling "Half Man Half Shark," all featuring saxophone from Ignacio Salvadores -- built anticipation for the October 2017 arrival of The Ooz, the second King Krule album. Greeted with more commercial success and adulation than the debut, the scattered double LP reached number 23 in the U.K. and number 114 in the U.S., figured prominently in year-end lists from numerous publications, and was up for that year's Mercury Prize. Marshall reappeared in early 2020 with hints about the third King Krule album. Man Alive!, considerably more concise and only slightly less grim than the artist's previous full-lengths, landed that February. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi