Review Summary: The moping of a 48-year-old man who never really matured past 20.
When 2016 started, I made a few goals for myself. One of those goals was to actively search for new music from more popular artists. That was the only reason I found this album. I had never heard the music of Jesu or Sun Kil Moon before. I thought this album was worth a shot, because of its 80-minute length, and it seemed like these songs were just standing by themselves. The album is self-titled, and the page on which one could stream the album has hardly anything on it, except for a black-and-white banner and small text. There's nothing to get in the way between the music and listeners. I was excited to listen to this, because the way it was presented seemed so intriguing.
Despite being so fascinated by it, nothing could save this album for me.
If one were to skip around on this album, and just listen to the first minute or so of each track, they would probably be entertained. That's because those brief moments are the only parts where this album works at all. Every one of those musical ideas quickly goes down the drain, as each one of them is dragged on for up to 14 minutes
. Yes, the last track on here is an obscene 14 minutes long. That would be okay if the song told an intricate story of some sort, or if it was dynamic in any way. But it doesn't and it isn't. Imagine a two-chord progression, with the same drum loop and one guy just reading disjointed thoughts on a notepad. For 14 minutes. That's what this song sounds like. It's hard to go into what this song is about in the first place. He mentions watching boxing matches with his friend, going to a corner market and buying water. He mentions restringing his guitar and, later, seeing his girlfriend for dinner. What's the point of mentioning any of that? Does anyone really care about what the singer's schedule is? Can we even call him a singer? 90% of this song, Mark Kozelek is mumbling with no discernible melody.
That was all part of the last song on this album, Beautiful You. It's meant to be a peaceful, relaxing song. If we were to go back to the first three songs on this album, we'd find something different. Although all three match the same pace of the last song, they feature distorted guitars and a live drum set, instead of synthesizer chords and sequenced percussion with a low-pass filter. But these songs are the same, strung-out patterns that every song on this album has. It's like the guitarist of the bands on this album lost the highest four strings on their instruments and hoped no-one would notice.
I don't enjoy listening to any song on this album in its entirety. But one of the songs I appreciate the most is 'Last Night I Rocked The Room...'. It's the first electronic song on this album. There are more than two chords repeated throughout the 8-minute duration, which is a blessing. Not only that, but the drums on here have varying elements. But even with those hardly-exciting qualities, it's the same rambling from Kozelek that we get on every other song on this album. The worst part, by far, is the last quarter of this song. He just decides to read a letter from a fan in Singapore, and decides that this fan is now "the core writer of the song". There's no point in doing that, which Kozelek acknowledges. But even then, he does it again
on another song, called America's Most Wanted Mark Kozelek And John Dillinger. That idea, of reading letters from fans, gets stale incredibly quickly.
I get it. People want personal albums. Sometimes people appreciate droning music like this, and most fans want their favorite artists to be open with their music and make music for themselves. However, this is probably not the way to do it. Don't make an 80-minute long album that sounds like you and a couple friends had a jam session while you read your diary entries from the past few months. Unless that's what the fans of Jesu and Sun Kil Moon want. In which case, congratulations. You have another perfect album.