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Recording as Sun Kil Moon, Mark Kozelek’s new album, Benji, walks a fine line between tear-jerk confessionals and R. Kelly–style stream-of-consciousness stories. The everyday recollections of “Ben’s My Friend” feel kind of like Kozelek’s own “Trapped in the Closet.”

On Benji, Kozelek weaves singing about a friend or loved one dying into tales involving Kentucky Fried Chicken, Panera Bread, and Dominos. Its tragic moments are almost equaled by it’s out-of-nowhere, laugh-out-loud lyrics. The result is the most depressing album set in the mall food court one could ever imagine.

Kozelek fans will be split over this release, as its rambling verses often never run across a chorus, and there is nary a bridge in sight. Structurally, most of Benji feels like a rap album. Lots of repeated rhythms and instrumentation complimented by some serious, real-world death, misery, and hard times. This time around, the listener’s opinion of the album will probably depend more on her/his emotional reaction to Kozelek's confessions than the music that accompanies them. I dig it, but I can see why some would prefer Benji the book over Benji the album. It is a strong Sun Kil Moon release, but Ghosts of the Great Highway is still king.

  • Album: Benji
  • Artist: Sun Kil Moon
  • Label: Caldo Verde
  • Songs: (1) Carissa (2) I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love (3) Truck Driver (4) Dogs (5) Pray For Newtown (6) Jim Wise (7) I Love My Dad (8) I Watched the Film The Song Remains the Same (9) Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes (10) Micheline (11) Ben's My Friend
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Dorian Hargrove Feb. 28, 2014 @ 2:16 p.m.

You should review Mark Kozelek's new one w/ Desertshore. Great album.-dH


Dryw Keltz March 8, 2014 @ 2:40 p.m.

Yes, it's always great when his songs get the full-band treatment!


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