A four-hour train ride separates King Krule’s Archy Marshall from his homes in London and Liverpool. That’s a lot of time to have on your hands, and the recurring commute is something the UK songsmith explicitly addresses on “Wednesday Overcast,” a nocturnal thump that concludes the project’s fourth full-length, Space Heavy. While he could have easily gotten lost in his thoughts while staring off into the distance, Marshall instead started plotting out this latest release bit-by-bit each trip. Considering Space Heavy’s aurally gorgeous results, Marshall made good use of his time.
Transportation comes into play throughout Space Heavy; from a bus ride to Bishopsgate on “That Is My Life, That Is Yours,” to a quick boat trip Marshall takes in the video to “If It Was Only Warmth,” to two lovers briefly meeting up at a train station during the softly-swayed “Seaforth.” Parallel to Marshall’s extensive travel time, the album also considers the liminal spaces that exist between people — take the emotional gulf that widens after the narrator delivers hard truths to someone on “Hamburgerphobia;” keeping on brand, the song ends with Marshall getting booted out of the passenger seat of a car.
At least Space Heavy feels more unified on a sonic front. It’s a fluid journey that segues seamlessly from lithe, jazzy chord work (“Flimsier” and “Space Heavy”), to paranoid, post-punk twitchiness (“Pink Shell”), to delicately-picked guitar minimalism (“Our Vacuum”), and hypnotically undulated symphony arrangements (“When Vanishing”). Marshall’s unique vocal delivery is most generally the main course — whether wrung out through a wistful, dulcet baritone or a throaty, Dracula-like cackle — though longtime saxophonist Ignacio Salvadores also comes through in the clutch with some stunningly sublime horn work, most strongly with his askew honking on “That Is My Life, That Is Yours.”
An emotional heft anchors Marshall’s latest King Krule release, though paradoxically it’s paired with some of the project’s smoothest soundscapes. While it invites repeat listening, there’s also something precious about hanging in the liminal space between the album’s last lingering notes and the moment you move your finger to press play again.