When I was 22, I fell out of love with my dream job. I got a gig at a warehouse for a corporate book seller while I tried to become a music writer, and I unloaded over 100 boxes of books a day. I had an internship at SPIN Magazine (before they were bought by Billboard and gutted), and when Donald Trump won the election in 2016, I sat alone in the office the next morning for two hours sobbing to myself before any one else came to work.
I love New York City, but the depression and isolation it can breed for those struggling to get by is brutal. I hated working in a warehouse, living in our corrupt political system, and how hopeless it all felt. For the first time in my life, I was truly angry.
On the song “Cellular,” the first track off of British punk singer/songwriter King Krule’s new album, Man Alive!, anxiety, anger, and the sinking feeling of depression are up front and center. He mentions children crying on his television, a massacre on his phone, and losing signal on the subway as we try to stay connected, all before spiraling into phoning his ex-girlfriend.
“I want to leave London,” Archy Marshall, a.k.a King Krule, told Vice in 2017. “Everything is done here.”
Now three years later on Man Alive!, he’s still angry but he’s no longer alone. The birth of his daughter is a huge influence on the record, and even songs such as “Stoned Again” have a power and purpose that his earlier work lacked. There’s something about surrounding yourself with the support of people who feel like you do and screaming about depression that makes you feel even more alive.
“I see a beauty in everything that I knew was always there, but I can understand it a lot more now,” he told The Guardian. “I really like the beauty in the lows, the highs, the hatred and the love, I appreciate humanity, the people around me and conversation. I’m more open, accepting and interested.”
There’s a big transition in tone from the despair of “Cellular” to the uplifting refrain of “Alone, Omen 3,” where he sings, “Don’t forget you’re not alone, deep in the metropole.”
When the guitar hits the chorus on “Stoned Again,” a song filled with disdain and self-loathing, there’s a cathartic strength, like the feeling of wanting to axe kick every shitty person in the world before driving really fast into the sun. It’s not that it’s empowering, per se, but wholly gratifying.
There’s more warmth under the growl and distortion of Marshall’s music on Man Alive! that seems to say that it’s not only a time to be angry, but that it is also okay to be angry. There is strength in reviling the world in solidarity, and as he says on “Supermarche,” “we have to rise above.”
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