Talent Beyond Their Years

January 12th, 2012

King Krule – Mercury Lounge – January 11, 2012

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

The 17-year old British phenom Archy Marshall, who performs as King Krule, is often cited for the seeming dichotomy between his appearance (lanky, fresh-faced) and his singing voice (deep, resonant, mature). While this may be a charming contradiction, there was nothing precious about King Krule’s performance at a sold-out Mercury Lounge last night—just some solid music from a band that, yes, happens to be quite young. Having only begun performing in the US a few months ago, Marshall displayed confidence with minimal bravado, focused and rarely cracking a smile.

Over the course of a concise set, the band played several numbers from King Krule’s recent self-titled EP along with older numbers (“Baby Blue,” “Greyscale”), lo-fi gems that Marshall originally recorded in his bedroom under the moniker Zoo Kid. As both Zoo Kid and King Krule, Marshall grabs influences from a range of sources, with hints of jazz, soul, sentimental ’50s rockabilly, and even hip-hop and spoken word, as demonstrated on songs like “A Lizard State.”

That song’s frenzy was countered by “Bleak Bake,” from the new EP, which found Marshall playing a jangly riff on his guitar over a subtle dub beat while affixing his eyes on the crowd in a direct, piercing stare before beginning to sing with a calm, laconic delivery. Modestly thanking us for coming out, King Krule ended the set with crowd favorites “The Noose of Jah City” and “Out Getting Ribs,” similar in their hypnotic, looping sound and bleak lyrics. Certainly no youthful optimism here, and perhaps that’s why we like it. —Alena Kastin