King Krule videos have always nosedived into the surreal. ‘Rock Bottom’ s visual accompaniment transfigured the desolation-induced lyrics into a beautifully contorted mess of Lynchian, Kafkaesque and beat generation reference work, with sparse industrial landscapes, cockroach wallpapers, black lodge diners, cactus women and a pack of brutish ‘city boys’ summoning a real sense of dread, as if the video was a representation of Archy Marshall’s own personal night hag. Whereas ‘Octopus’ looks like some nightmarish ket binge, or possibly a Captain Pugwash episode tripped out…whichever one it is doesn’t change the fact that it ends with Archy perched on a bathtub, while a gangrenous slime oozes out of the occupant’s turn-of-the-century diving helmet, rocking slowly back and forth.
Both those videos were directed by the excellent sibling duo of Paraic and Michael Morrissey (both members of the menacing Filthy Boy), but now, with Jamie-James Medina manning the directive helm, King Krule has surpassed all preconceptions of where his surrealism can go, and gone and got the late Alfred Hitchcock to introduce his fastest cut yet, ‘A Lizard State’.
Don’t be too alarmed, Archy is not some backstreet Hades shaman, in actual fact the introductory clip is cut from an episode of ‘Hitchcock Presents’ (season 4, episode 13 to be precise – ‘Six People, No Music’), and unlike the episode’s themes, Archy’s own video does indeed cover both the concept of being ‘undertaken’ while oxymoronically cemented in the sky.
Lyrically, Marshall never seems to be on the ground, he’s always “scraping [his] head on the cranes” or lying deep immersed in his “concrete bed”, but in ‘A Lizard State’ he’s both. The song deals with this dichotomous irony, explaining it through a portrayal of the aching end stage of a bitter relationship, where all you want to do is fuck over your ex-lover in sadistic tyranny. But for all Archy’s caterwauls of “I’ll tear you apart” (as elucidated by Hitchcock) he is the one being undertaken, his airborne position merely a front, a dramatic representation of where he really wants to be. This bizarre double think perfectly complements the erratic crosstown-traffic Jazz of the song, which, for the record, was my favourite track of 2013.
The limbs of ‘A Lizard State’ crash through James Chance like contortionist NY No-Wave, the hefty brass horde dissonantly answering Archy’s broken words, while smooth, clean guitar lines accentuate the malicious nature of the song, all the while sitting upon drummer George Bass’ nigh stupendous fills and grooves.
All in all, this audio visual pairing is sublime, the best thing I’ve seen or heard this year (I don’t care that we’re only 9 days in), and if Marshall’s next record turns the anomalous ferocious speed of ‘A Lizard State’ into its foundations (rather than his penchant for danker cuts holding court) then his current position of towering over his contemporaries will be properly cemented.
Go to the top of the page to watch King Krule’s ‘A Lizard State’. The album it is taken from ’6 Feet Beneath The Moon’ is out now on True Panther Sounds and XL Recordings.