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Sun kil moon benji


Sun Kil Moon - 2014

I have little actual experience with Mark Kozelek for some reason. Even though my closest friend has been a Red House Painters/Kozelek fan since High School, the extent of my experience with him is his small part in Almost Famous as the bass player in Stillwater. (“Can’t we just get some barbecue or something?”) Well, apparently in 2014 the time has come. Benji has been getting huge reviews and will be hard to ignore come the end of the year when it’s list time. But what’s the big deal?……. It’s a bare bones, singer-songwriter album. Mark couldn’t win The Voice with his talk-singing style. The songwriting isn’t that special musically, with it’s fairly basic rhythms and structures. So what’s the hook? Why should you check it out? What makes this album special is the lyric writing and the sincerity of Mark’s delivery. It’s intimate. It’s revealing. It’s personal. I’ve never heard a lyrical style quite like this. He is ultra-descriptive at times, giving you every detail of his surroundings. It’s basic, and above all, honest songwriting. The album lyrically deals with mortality in various ways. The first song, “Carissa”, details the death of Mark’s cousin. She was his second cousin, 35 years old, a mother of two, and he barely knew her. (details, details, details) It’s this storytelling that’s so intriguing. You find yourself engrossed in the stories. Carissa died when an aerosol can blew up in some trash that she was burning. It’s a kind of a ridiculous way to die, but the really ridiculous part is that her grandfather, Mark’s uncle, died the exact same way, which we find out in the song “Truck Driver”. The themes of mortality continue throughout the album. In “I can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love” he’s not sure how he’ll get along once his mother inevitably dies. “Pray For Newtown” reminds the listener not to forget the kids that died in the Newtown massacre. “I Love My Dad” is kind of self descriptive. With this and his mother’s song it’s almost as if he’s making sure he tells them how he feels while they’re still around to hear it. Why these issues of mortality now? Is this Kozelek’s mid-life crisis? The song that strikes me most is “Dogs”. It’s the most honest and vulnerable song about sex that I’ve ever heard. We learn about his first kiss, first love, first oral sex, first sex, and the pain of heartbreak. It gets a bit dirty in it’s honesty, and you feel a bit like you’re trespassing on a moment that’s none of your business. Again, this is a bit of an analyzation of his life, as if he’s taking stock. I don’t hand out a 5 star ratings unless an album is on par with my all time favorites, but I’m giving this one 4 1/2 stars, which says a lot. Each year I look forward to an album surprising me with something that I haven’t heard before. 2006 was Gnarls Barkley, 2007 was Battles, 2010 Sleigh Bells, 2011 James Blake, 2012 Death Grips, and this year is most definitely Benji.

Posted by Tambe



Posted: 05/04/2014

Review by:



Tambe ranks this as the
#2 favorite album of 2014