Sun Kil Moon
Universal Themes


4.5
superb

Review

by Jordan M. STAFF
June 10th, 2015 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Deftly Personal and Undeniably Boring.

Mark Kozelek's ability to express something distinctly original and unique from his experiences defines a larger portion of his better work. That specific mannerism culminated in his apex, Benji, his strongest display yet of internal scarring and stary observations. On that record, he explored a pallet of emotions so wide its perplexing that many use the term emotional as a synonym for sad; detailing his friendship with Ben Gibbard, the death of his uncle and second-cousin in eerily similar fashion, and his first cunnilingus experiences, he crafted an identifiable self-portrait with such skill that the listener could relate to even the most minute detail.

In the interim, he went so far as to tell The War on Drugs to suck his cock, incite a barrage of poorly strung together think pieces (Meredith Graves et al), and attracted the ire of the music press as everything wrong with white guys in music. With Universal Themes, he’s laid the unpleasant truths of his life bare for us to consider, channelling equal parts James Joyce and Berlin-era Lou Reed. On the opening track, “The Possum”, that comes through in a poignant tale of the honourable death of the titular character, itself contrasted against the apparent catharsis Kozelek experienced at a Godflesh concert. “The Possum” is striking not only for its remarkably engaging narrative (at 9-minutes, he manages to keep his rambling constantly engaging and relatable), but for its archetypal structure, as Universal Themes seeks for itself bizarre and fractured songwriting to back the rambling raconteur Kozelek becomes. Most noticeable is “This is My First Day and I’m an Indian and I Work at a Gas Station”, where the compelling narrative of Ben Gibbard and a foreign store clerk converge to the tune of salaciously jarring musical landscapes. Kozelek chooses to abandon much of the sparse folk that backed Benji and replace it with Steve Shelley’s clattering drums and his own shrieking electric guitar; it makes for a challenge, even for people who became acquainted with the antiquities and nuances apparent under all that miserable dirge on his previous works. Regardless, devote time to it and you will be rewarded, as there’s more humour under “Cry Me a River Williamsburg Sleeve Tattoo Blues” ('Went to see a band tonight/And they wouldn't play my favorite tunes/It's 2012 but I like the ones from 1992') than any other folk musician can attest to.

Universal Themes is profound in how it takes allegories that are deftly personal, undeniably boring, and filled with in-jokes, and make them not only relatable but a pleasant 71-minute listen. Kozelek may take issue with everyone and everything for the sake of a wind-up, but his unrivalled ability to slice open his mind and let the observations spill out make for better self-help than most musicians’ could ever muster. Of course, most musicians aren’t as fearless or transgressive as Mark Kozelek; Universal Themes is business as usual in the best possible manner.



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3.4
great
other reviews of this album
StrangerofSorts EMERITUS (3.8)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ILoveRadiohead
June 10th 2015


46 Comments


you could have described the album more than just two tracks. it's well-written but it feels incomplete tbh.

SmersH
June 10th 2015


447 Comments


That final paragraph sums up my thoughts on him exactly. Very nice!

Insurrection
June 10th 2015


24735 Comments


dunno if this is my style but review was a good read. mental pos

Gyromania
June 10th 2015


28889 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"Undeniably Boring"



agreed

Judio!
June 10th 2015


8456 Comments


Haven't listened but yep I'm sure this is boring as hell

DoofusWainwright
June 10th 2015


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Parts of this were boring for a couple of spins but then it all fell into place for me

adr
June 10th 2015


12033 Comments


expecting a 3.5 atleast from Gyro after like a week or two so all is good don't worry

also need to check :::::::::!

Zantera
June 10th 2015


130 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This beats Benji

Thane
June 10th 2015


2288 Comments


i liked this review. i wasn't really sure about this on my first few listens but it's really growing on me.

hogan900
June 10th 2015


3070 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Idk, Gyro is normally set on his ratings as far as I'm concerned.



But man, you know this is atleast a 3 : D

hogan900
June 10th 2015


3070 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Didn't even see you had an off minor avatar either, cheers.

nickswandotcom
June 10th 2015


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

great album. dude's songwriting style is wholly unique and interesting, its crazy how he can write 10 minute songs on the most basic subject material with a few chords and turn it into a huge thing

Gyromania
June 11th 2015


28889 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

adr: this is you: https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQbTfQsfFp0Fsu8KkFh66a3gdGZPm5w1HCugW2CBoRIu8s2LJ9Lkg

Gyromania
June 11th 2015


28889 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

hogan: hell yeah man, some blood is one of my faves. just picked up the vinyl not too long ago.

alabasterjones
June 11th 2015


160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Birds of Flims and I Walked to the Bathroom are both incredible.



The rest is iffy. How many fucking times does he have to describe his meals?

aircycle
June 11th 2015


1103 Comments


that was john hanson's avatar in 2008

DoofusWainwright
June 11th 2015


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

alab - garden of lavender is far from iffy come on now

nickswandotcom
June 11th 2015


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"cry me a river" is fire

ZrankFrappa
June 11th 2015


59 Comments


sounds like a music 10/10

henryChinaski
June 11th 2015


4289 Comments


Checking this out now. Artwork is sweet. Nice write-up!

Digging: Leif Vollebekk - New Ways



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