Sun Kil Moon's 'April' is clearly a landmark record for principle member Mark Kozelek as well as the year 2008. Where 'Ghosts of the Great Highway' used childhood memories and old boxing heroes to define Kozelek's confessions it seems like with 'April' he has retreated back to his honestly bare beginnings. Musically, this is definitely the most varied Sun Kil Moon record, lots of electric guitars as well as guest vocalists and an obvious debt to Neil Young. The most common complaint that has been addressed in criticism of 'April' is the length of the record. Certainly an hour and ten minute plus run time isn't something to simply scoff at but Kozelek's classic records have always been marred by their seemingly ridiculous lengths. I for one see no issue with it. While I do favor short, more concise records, Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters have proven time and time again that there is no wiggle room in quality on their extremely lengthy LPs. Basically what I am getting at is that if someone has an issue with the length of this record they must be a relatively new Kozelek fan because those that are familiar with his discography would understand that he has a notion for being long winded. Nowhere is this more obvious than in his lyrical content which essentially reflects poetic journal entries. 'Moorestown' is a beautifully picked track taking up Kozelek's usual reminiscent imagery but lines like 'We moved together so heavenly' seem to present us with a more content feeling than the emptiness Kozelek is known for. The pain of the length is dulled also by the fact that every song has a memorable highlight, from the subtly brilliant melodies of 'Like the River' to the addition of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy on 'Unlit Highway'.
'April' is a pretty easy record to sum up; eleven tracks of the most pure sincerity that deal with a variety of rekindled feelings. 'Tonight the Sky' perfectly encapsulates Neil Young in his Harvest era. 'Tonight in Bilbao' provides a touching update on the song structure of Sun Kil Moon's track 'Duk Koo Kim' but without all the extremities about South Korean boxers. The filler like 'The Light' and 'Heron Blue' which both seem like extremely safe Kozelek tracks are still excellently arranged and rival any of the highlights off of 'Tiny Cities'. Essentially, 'April' is an improvement and definition of what the Sun Kil Moon sound is really able to pull off. Lengthy, but for a reason. Intimate, but with enough courtesy to be vague enough to allow the listener to place themselves in the songs. Mark Kozelek defines the term “artist” and 'April' is yet another notch on his belt, an enveloping experience that calmly and quietly wins its way into your heart.
This album is wonderful because of its lyrics. Often repetitive and long, a careful listen will show why that's necessary to expose the underlying poetry that drives this. The sound repeats, but the lyrics don't, and they build wonderfully. I can't think of a better contemporary lyricist than Kozelek, Dylan and Jack White included.
Kozelek shouldn't be bunked for his content regarding a south korean boxer esp bc that song is strangely easy to relate to being that he juxtaposes the scene with one of isolation. shakes me up every time.