Emotionally despondent and morally conflicted, Man Alive! serves as a harrowing experience of unhealthy dependency. Yet, in its dejected tone, there is an underlying sense of clarity in Archy’s ability to pick apart his insecurities and potential downfalls.
Man Alive!...where did this record come from? A month ago I’d never finished a Krule record, now he’s one of my favourites ever? Alright then...
In actuality though, I think what I love most about this album can be applied to all of Archy’s efforts to this day. He has a very abstract approach to his issues. While his lyrics and even some instrumentals reek of despondency and insecurity, it’s intriguing to really pick apart his work to see what applies to yourself.
As an artist, he is so good at creating an atmosphere that allows him to vent about many things. On his most recent effort, these things can be a variety of issues. At this point I’ve interpreted quite a few of these issues to connect to some things I’ve felt in my own life.
These “issues” I mention can really be captured in one small piece of imagery;
- I imagine it’s late at night, and there’s a young man in the city, stumbling around, drunk enough to where his lower half is basically on auto-pilot. His jaw is dropped and his mouth hangs open, as he just marches down an empty sidewalk accompanied by neon-lit signs on rundown buildings, bottle clutched with a death grip in his right hand. While his body is mindless, his mind is still busy. Thoughts are racing through his head...who’s going to pick me up? What am I doing? What’s happening to me? How did I get to this point? He’s pleading his mind for answers but finds none, and this gauges himself to ask one final time.
Where did it all go wrong?
I find that image coming to my head every time I listen to this album. Such a low, melancholy picture that speaks to the idea of despondency. It’s a sudden loss of hope, which is where I find my own mindset overlaps with Archy’s on MA!
I can tell what problems really come to mind, I’d say the two glaring examples would be Draag On and Energy Fleets. They’re so slow and heart-wrenching in their sound. I especially love the looming guitars on Energy Fleets that flip between bright and dark, day and night, as it really does play to the lyricism of the track with Archy switching between urgent and defeated.
“Where are you going? The days about to end” right into, “Such a funny life I lead, it’s such a funny life”
Almost like a sense of fake optimism. The whole track feels like my heart was ripped out and all I can do is fall into a chair and smile at the ground, watching it be stomped into a million tiny pieces.
Draag On is more of a personal touch to my senses, as I take it as a full on narration on the lack of a shoulder to cry on. More so, it feels like with each beat, I just want to lightly bump my head against a wall, over and over, while my face swells up with tears.
It’s just begging to answer the question, how many times can you get knocked down before you just stay down?
“How many hits can one bum take?”
However, I’d be remiss to not mention just how disheartening it is to read over the themes of chemical dependency on this song, following up to “Stoned Again” earlier in the track list. Another moment on the record where even Archy is inquiring as to when he spiralled so low.
With that in mind, it’s really the last 5 tracks that we see Archy shift from chemical dependency to yearning for another source of energy, or catharsis. More in the form of affection or kinship.
Which I can’t deny, I’ve struggled with forms of that myself. The endless struggle for affection, to feel like there is someone out there who can hold you long enough to make you feel like you’ve found a new favourite pillow, a new flame to keep you warm. I’ve learned from my mistakes of thinking that something of the sort would solve all of my problems, but the way he’s able to spill his thoughts out in a way that connects to a point that it revives the pain I felt...it’s disheartening honestly.
Then, despite such an addiction and it’s unhealthy attributes, Archy paints this infatuation in a way that is so intoxicating and rich, it’s impossible imagine he’s in any sort of pain.
Underclass is especially guilty of this, where Archy finds himself stuck between feeling under the control of this lover, but he suspects something isn’t right.
Then we hit the closer, Please Complete Thee, where the urgency that died so quickly on Draag On comes back in full force with Archie waxing poetic on the utter importance of this one girl. The instrumental emanates a sense of doom, like the fate of the his life depends on whether or not this person returns to him.
I.e. - He cries out, “Life is short, come back to me and cure me of every issue known to man.”
In the end though, the portrayal of hopelessness and falling to dependency is so well thought out throughout the record. It manages to really lure out some deeper issues that I’ve struggled with personally that make this record feel quite special in just how in-depth Archy is willing to go. The production on this album is on a whole new level as well, with every track switching up the pace and tone of the album in ways that make every listen, a seamless one.
My King Krule addiction remains undefeated, still.
- Favourite Tracks -
* Comet Face
* Draag On
* Energy Fleets