Music in Review: “You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down”

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The Winonan’s music reviewer rates “You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down” 4/5 stars.

Matthew Drewry, features editor

British indie darling Archie Marshall has been making waves in the scene for a long time. Before emerging on the scene as King Krule, Marshall first published music in 2010 under the name “Zoo Kid” and in 2013 as “Edgar the Beatmaker” before releasing his 2011 self-titled debut as King Krule, which I particularly enjoyed. Marshall followed this with his first full length album “Six Feet Beneath The Moon” to universal popular acclaim, performing across the US TV circuit, and spawning the hit tracks “Baby Blue,” “Easy Easy” and “A Lizard State”.
After this release, Marshall released a under the radar low-fi effort titled “Another Place 2 Drown” under the name Archy Marshall, including an art book. After this more artful release, Marshall released his second full length effort under the King Krule moniker, “The OOZ.” “OOZ” featured some sonic and thematic highlights but burdened with some filler in the tracklisting. Marshall also released a film and fathered a child before the release of his 2020 album “Man Alive.” I found “Alive” sonically and lyricially underwhelming despite demonstrating a maturing sonic palette. Personally, I believe Marshall has struggled to leave the shadow of “Six Feet Beneath The Moon” in producing, complete, listenable tracks that keep me coming back.
Marshall’s style as King Krule is characterized by dark, looming, grungy soundscapes and his own brooding, agonzied vocals and various experimental stylistic mixes and studio manipulations to create a soundscape reminiscent of London at night. He has displayed a proficiency in creating a nocturnal, post punk, jazz-psychedelia hybrid truly all his own.
“You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down” was released Sept. 10, 2021, and is Marshall’s first commercial live album, featuring a full band and crowd noise. “Cool Me Down” displays the raw musicality of Marshall and his ensemble in a manner not often heard in his recorded music. Featuring reworkings of many of his singles and most popular tracks, “Cool Me Down” is a wonderful collection of dynamic, beautifully recorded tracks that provides a energetic, dynamic, counterpart to Marshall’s very subdued, relaxed delivery on albums. It is truly a joy to listen to and delivers something to any modern rock or indie listener.
I have consistently been impressed with the talent of Marshall’s ensemble in the past, but it is in first class throughout “Cool Me Down.” The band muscles through a 73 minute runtime without missing a beat artfully integrating a full spectrum of instruments, including saxophone parts reminiscent of an early King Crimson lineup. Several of the tracks I found underwhelming on “Man Alive” are here in full form and given new life with the charisma of Marshall in the front and energy of the live band.
Case in point, “Underclass” off “Man Alive” seems like a moody indistinct track with a beautiful sax line and muddied vocals that’s relegated to a near interlude in the tracklisting. On “Cool Me Down” it is reimagined as an urbanite Sinatraesque love ballad that, backed with the emotion of Marshall’s live performance and a bigger saxophone part, is a serious highlight of the tracklisting.
Similarly “Half Man Half Shark” sounds more like a belligerent, danceable hard rock jam than the experimental sonic vocal noise painting it did on “OOZ” and is a real treat in the tracklisting. While the experimental aims of the track on “OOZ” are interesting, Marshall’s overdriven vocals are off putting long term and hurt the replay value of the track. On “Cool Me Down”, the wild synth flourishes and energetic performance of both Marshall and the band give a completely new treatment to the track, aided immensely by a fresh mix.
Marshall in particular displays a cool charisma interacting with the crowd and leading the band that is hard not to love. In comparison to the shy reserved singer on the studio albums, Marshall sounds like a comic book hero brought to the silver screen in fullness. Marshall even demonstrates some taste screaming on the earlier portion of the album before retiring to more reserved tracks on the latter half of the performance. This wild genre crossing skill from him and the band adds depth to each and every track, regardless of how familiar the listener is with the original. There are songs that end up more progressive, punkier, noisier, or anthemic, and hearing Marshall’s voice with minimal modulation is a rare treat.
Overall, I think this album holds something for everyone, King Krule fan or not, rock fan or not. Tracks like “Stoned Again”, “The Ooz” and “A Slide In (New Drugs) caught my ear in a way I didn’t expect, and keep the listener on their feet throughout the album, giving it valuable single replay value as well as a cohesive value as a whole. I rate “You Heat Me Up, You Cool Me Down” 4 out of 5 stars.