Sun Kil Moon
Benji


3.0
good

Review

by Schizophrenik USER (7 Reviews)
February 13th, 2014 | 10 replies


Release Date: 02/11/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: My grandma my grandma my grandma my grandma my grandma my grandma

Mark Kozelek has been unusually prolific as of late. In the past few years, he’s put out a multitude of collaborations and solo material that seems to keep coming out of nowhere. And while the high output is appreciated from a man in his mid-forties and now two decades strong in the music business, it’s also come with a distinct change in composition. His songs are no longer the lyrically complicated and rhythmically mesmerizing epics that punctuated his days with the Red House Painters and his masterpiece Ghosts of the Great Highway. He seems to be having a midlife crisis of sorts, in that he is feeling the irreversible effects of aging, and it reflects in his music, showing up bluntly in lyrics like “Havin' to pee 50 times a day is bad enough, got a naggin’ prostate and I got a bad back.” But it also has influence in the songwriting process itself. In a recent interview, Kozelek pointed out that (and I’m paraphrasing here) he’s 45 and he has better things to do than spend all day in the studio finding the perfect snare drum sound.

The effects of weariness are clearly present, as Benji sees Kozelek continue to develop a sort of rambling, low pitched delivery that he’s been using since Among the Leaves, accompanied by his distinctive fingerpicking that now seems to have adopted a similar attitude of quiet meandering. This attitude of complicity would be enough to ruin most songwriters, but Kozelek somehow makes it work, despite the occasional failure. The opener "Carissa" for example is one of the most beautifully sad songs that I've heard in a long time, a heartfelt requiem for a distant relative that takes full advantage of his new stream of consciousness style storytelling. “Jim Wise,” a simple sing-song about visiting his dad’s friend under house arrest backed by what sounds like an electronic xylophone is inexplicably captivating.

That said, Benji also has a few songs that are tremendously hurt by Kozeleks songwriting. When the atmosphere falls flat, they tend to sound underdeveloped and lazy. One of the biggest problems that comes up in the weaker songs on the album is their heavily reliance on straight forward exposition rather than cleverly worked lyrics that really fit the music. Kozelek is so intent on telling stories that he seems to want to sing them as he would write prose so as not to leave anything out, and as a result the melodies on many of the songs are afterthoughts to the fast paced anecdotes.

Benji is an unusual record. It is inconsistent and unpredictable, but there are also frequent moments of brilliance when Kozelek is able to capture his stories and settings with anecdotal lyrics -- when the bleak themes are complemented beautifully by the quietly paced fingerpicking and Kozelek’s even, nostalgic drone. He’s telling outlandish stories in the most mundane way possible, because that’s how he sees the world now. When everyone else remembers when the caught the Night Stalker, Kozelek remembers when a man named Richard Ramirez died of natural causes.

The beauty in writing is often in the implicit way meaning is hidden and still understood, and when it becomes too straightforward it can almost seem bland. But Mark Kozelek seems to think that there is beauty in simplicity; in people and in stories, and he wants to sing about them.



Recent reviews by this author
Tigers Jaw Belongs To The DeadSongs: Ohia Magnolia Electric Co
Invalids EunoiaThe Gaslight Anthem Handwritten
The Smoking Popes Destination FailureThe Arrogant Sons of Bitches Three Cheers For Disappointment
user ratings (399)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Blair Chopin (5)
And strangely I laughed...

Eric Greenman (4)
Blue Crab Cakes....

Jonny Hunter CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
Death inspires the band's best work in years....

zach (4.5)
Mary Anne got cold and abruptly broke it off for a guy with sweatpants and a pick-up truck....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Schizophrenik
February 13th 2014


844 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I didn't have huge expectations for this, but there are some real gems here

CaptainDooRight
February 13th 2014


30369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yee

Digging: Henryk Gorecki - Symphony No. 3, Op. 36

TWIGtheWONDERKID
February 13th 2014


935 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about this one. The review gives me another way of looking at it while I decide--nice.

Digging: Galleon - From Land to Ocean

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2014


7431 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good to see Magnolia Electric Co. getting a shout.

Schizophrenik
February 13th 2014


844 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah Magnolia Electric Co. is a great record, I might do a review for it at some point since there doesn't seem to be one

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2014


7431 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, it's on my enormous list of records I'd like to write about - the vast majority of which I'll never get around to.

This album's still growing on me, but I can see it settling at a 4.

Schizophrenik
February 13th 2014


844 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I have such mixed feelings about it. Carissa is probably the only song from this that I'll listen to after that new album smell wears off

CaptainDooRight
March 5th 2014


30369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

that summary

Bergtatt
March 8th 2014


73 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing review

Schizophrenik
March 9th 2014


844 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks bergtatt!

so yeah Carissa is the only song that I still listen to. It's so good though



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy