Commercially, 2011 was very much Edward Christopher Sheeran’s year. At just twenty years old, Sheeran achieved back to back top ten singles, a number 1 album and a sell out UK tour defined Ed Sheeran as England’s new prodigal son. I, however, have someone else in mind for year 12. Ginger hair and soul seem to be the trend these days, and Archy Marshall has taken this style completely in his stride.
It’s hard to be critical of Ed Sheeran, even if he doesn’t quite dance on your pallet as he’s done for most of the mainstream audience. Style, musical versatility and a listenable sound that broadens and draws in a large section of the public as listeners, edging ever closer the Sheeran’s flame. Collaborations with Wretch 32, Devlin and even a song about Nando’s chicken make Sheeran even more likable. Public perceptions single out the delicate balance between his ability, charisma and modesty. All the same, I still see the ‘modest’ aspect of Sheeran as contended. Although he is young, he knows he’s done well, he knows he’s made it big and he knows he can only get bigger. And through no fault of his own, this shows through his interviews and live performances.
I see no problem with Archy Marshall, whom is better known now as King Krule, and formally known as Zoo Kid. Sheeran is interpreted as having a soulful, strong and omnipotent voice, dexterously suited for chart topping singles and adaptive for soul songs, fragmenting a small resonance of Al Green and Marvin Gaye. Like I said, Sheeran is a very sound choice. King Krule inveigles his assemblage on the other end of the sphere, down falling the soul conventions Sheeran, and so many other pop stars today, seem to be aiming to tick the boxes to.
Masking his music in a wall of darkwave reverb, King Krule blends the classic rockabilly jive guitar sound with the dense attack of house, dubstep and new wave sound. His love of fifties rockabilly shapes his music and plants foundation for his production and his lyrics to build on, over and intwine with the complex intersection of the harmonies King Krule works over. His sound, if playing to any outside conventions ticks many of the boxes that Sheeran circles his pen over. Hip hop, soul, and rock, three purist genres of music bounce out of the magician hat in King Krules garrison of tricks, and weaves a different take on Sheeran. One that is not listened to enough, in my opinion.
Starting life in music as Zoo Kid, Archy Marshall filmed his first music video, for the single ‘Out Getting Ribs’, at just the tender age of sixteen. Marshall has established himself in the modern day as a poet with a guitar and an ear for eery and crepuscular production, sporting lyrics such as “I can’t escape my own mistake” highlights Marshall as a teenager, and highlights his truth even further. Transforming his music and evolving from moody blues rockabilly, Marshall has bitten the veins of new wave minimalism, and has taken to the flow as easily as a lion takes to the hunt. His latest EP from last year, King Krule EP True Panther, has personified a greater hunger for melon collie music and bitter tone resentment, with songs such as ‘Portrait In Black And Blue’ and ‘The Noose Of Jah City’. Every ounce of soul seems to be squeezed out of Archy Marshall, and progressively puzzled into place.
As it always turns out, there is a tragedy in the appraisals that go unrecognised for artists like Archy Marshall. For a mere seventeen year old, he has mirrored if not bettered many of the achievements Ed Sheeran has made. Recently, under the name King Krule, Marshall embarked on a tour of America, playing shows in New York and Seattle, as well as other prestigious states. Ed Sheeran played open day venues in Los Angeles when he was nineteen, and a year later he was outselling the likes of Lady Gaga, The Black Keys and Beyonce. Surely though, to be playing in the states, a country notoriously difficult to erode and appease, at the age of just seventeen is more gracious and bigger deal than playing small open nights? Yes, King Krule will be at small venues, but he’s touring in a very musically famous part of the states. Seattle, the birth place of bands like Nirvana, The Screaming Tree’s and Soundgarden all originate from that area of America.
It pains me to think that one artist can do just as well as another artists, and received just a fraction of the understanding they deserve when compared to the achievements of others. Universal opinions are not all accounted for, and statistics are adding up in a less than representative way. I like Ed Sheeran, but I like King Krule too. Working from his recent releases, festival appearances and media attention, King Krule seems to be gliding up the ladder at a satisfactory velocity. Sadly, not fast enough when you sit back and look at his attributes.
Considering his vernal age, potential has grasped King Krule by the throat, and he seems he wants to use it. Not for fame, commercial success or even to appeal to his ever growing fan base. I get the impression that he really loves what he does and that’s more than enough for him. It exemplifies home grown British talent to know that we’re not producing poets, guitarists, singers and producers as down to Earth and inventive as artists like King Krule and Ed Sheeran. I have my own preference on the two respective identities, but one thing is artlessly clear. CopperCab was right. Gingers do have soul.