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Sun Kil Moon's 'Benji' tells hundreds of stories

staff writer

Published: Monday, February 17, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 17, 2014 21:02

Mark Kozelek is a folk musician from San Francisco who makes music under the name Sun Kil Moon. None of his albums have reached the top 100 of the Billboard album chart. Not only is he highly unpopular with the youngsters, but even music critics have been indecisive on what to think of his music. With "Benji," Sun Kil Moon is breaking these barriers.


Sun Kil Moon's songwriting recipe has always been basic. All his songs are depressing, he likes to groan a lot and the instrumentation sounds like any average folk song. However, Kozelek has always had great potential as an artist. I can honestly say he's been writing some personal, creative music. Not but two weeks ago, he released "Benji." I didn't think much of it at the time. Surprisingly, "Benji" has since received a substantial amount of critical acclaim. No matter what I reviewed this week, I knew I had to listen to "Benji."


Perhaps Mark Kozelek has become used to people not listening to his music and figured he could pour his entire soul into a record with only a few people actually hearing it. Perhaps he decided he'd get more listeners if he told his life story through a microphone and overused a bunch of personal pronouns in the process. Whether Kozelek wants you to hear this album or not, I strongly recommend you hear it.


The music here isn't all that catchy. The instrumentation is nothing too exciting. All of the groaning sounds the same. The album cover is a blurry photo that looks like it was taken from a car window. The album might seem bland aside from Kozelek's sincere, heartbreaking lyrics. Luckily, he never shuts up.


Some of my favorite albums tell a story. What makes this album unique is that there are hundreds of stories being told. On "Dogs," Kozelek tells us about his first kiss, the first time he lost his virginity and the first time he was heartbroken, each story attached with the names involved and painfully literal imagery. The songs either mention somebody's death or are completely about death. Album-closer "Ben's My Friend" may not talk about death, but it talks about Kozelek's friendship with Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service frontman Ben Gibbard.


As absolutely depressing as "Benji" is, it does have a sense of humor. The album gets its title from the 1974 film about a dog that Kozelek watched for the first time around the first time he met his grandma. We learn this from the track "Micheline," where he says the word "grandma" 27 times. "Ben's My Friend" is the catchiest song on the album but oddly enough, the choruses are about crab cakes and sports bars. "I Love My Dad" has some of the funniest lyrics I've heard since I was into the Barenaked Ladies. "When I was five, I came home from Kindergarten crying cuz they sat me next to an albino. Then right after dinner, he played me the album 'They Only Come Out At Night' by Edgar Winter." The classic rock references on this album are just glorious.

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