Sun Kil Moon’s sixth album ensnares you into a trance that goes in and out of Mark Kozelek’s personal experiences from childhood fist fights to dealing with the drags of day to day life. The overarching theme I perceived while listening to this record was that life is delicate and all your reflections and experiences can be washed away without a moments notice.
At the end of the first track “Carrissa” which is about the death of his second cousin from an aerosol can explosion (One of two relatives memorialized for deaths attributed to aerosol can explosions) Kozelek sings the last words “….meant to give her life poetry, to make sure her name is known across every sea”. This brought out my deep down fear of being human, everybody wants to be remembered, otherwise life is just a literal “punch in, punch out”. Most of us see the importance in our self but are not always aware if others are looking at the same reflection. This is the genius behind Kozelek’s work.
The tracks on the album flow into each other which gives the listener an experience that makes them take each word at a time and not dwell on the previous song but take it as another chapter in the story. For example when he goes into his second song and proclaims on “I Can’t Live Without My Mother”s Love” “you can be cruel all you want, talk bad on my brothers, Shoot me full of holes and I won’t by bothered ,Judge me for my ways and my slew of ex-lovers, But don’t ever dare say a bad word about my mother ” You can take it in, think of your mother’s love and smile between songs that address life’s less humorless moments. Such as “Praying for Newton” where he covers a multitude of viewpoints that come with gun violence. He walks us through his personal experiences and addresses that violence is so widespread that everyone is affected by it but that it is also so common that no one even blinks an eye.
Each song presents us with a new story/situation(s) and allows the listener to take it in the song with vivid imagery from the lyrics but also lets the listener put himself in, or recall a situation he/she experienced. In the song “dogs” for example it reminded me of watching Judd Apatow’s “Freaks & Geeks”. For the sole reason I was reminded of my sexual awkwardness through the course of my life. The let downs, the mistakes and the wonder of if you will ever improve or get a chance to improve again sexually. The songs tempo and presence progresses much like the heartbeat of someone discovering their sexuality or rediscovering it with a new lover.
I could write a few pages about every song but I would rather have you (the reader) take the time to go to your local record store, pick up this record and give yourself a few hours to take i it in. The beauty of this album is in it’s’ honesty which unveils a less opaque Kozelek. Be prepared for a ride that will present you with various emotions from gratitude, self reflection, disappointment, envy, love and most present on the record, loss. I will leave you with a quote from Kozelek from an interview he did with Pitchfork.com: “Yes, a few of my relatives died from aerosol can explosions. Strange things happen within families, in small towns… For the most part, this record is as real as a bad car accident.” Do not forget this quote when you listen to this record because most art or new music you pick up in life is no where near as real as “a bad car accident”.