Sun Kil Moon have a new album out! The indie-rock world shakes it’s head in collective bafflement.
In 2012, before it all went wrong and I still had all my hair, I wrote about Among The Leaves and noted that Mark Kozelek had started to write about his life as actually lived as opposed to a romanticised version. I think (hope?) this tendency of his has reached it’s apex/nadir here on Common As Light And Love Are The Red Valleys Of Blood, a 129 minute double album.
In 2014, Kozelek told Pitchfork “I suppose I’ve run out of metaphors“ and he has recorded several albums to varying degrees of acclaim (Benji being particularly beloved by fans) since his writing has stopped being figurative and started being more and more literal.
This new album ̶a̶l̶m̶o̶s̶t̶ feels exactly like an unedited diary sung/spoken over music. (I will briefly say that we must always always always separate the Artist and the Art and maybe Kozelek isn’t obsessed with death and getting fat and celebrities and blah blah blah). Whereas in the past it felt like he would take a moment, crystallise it and place it in the best metaphoric language he could, now we’re getting the lot, warts and all. Which is long and messy and very repetitious. and strangely compelling.
It brought to my mind Borges’s story, “Funes the Memorious” , which is the tale of a man who remembers everything in complete detail, no longer being able to abstract or make sense of the world around him as he is too busy recalling things precisely. Now obviously Kozelek can abstract and still has opinions but the (seeming) lack of filter leads to some repetitious and mundane work…
However, can you think of anyone else doing this or who’s done this? Can you imagine if Dylan, when he ran out of the old way of writing songs, had sung in minute detail over a synth bass and drums writing about the time he accidentally went to some guy called Dave’s house instead of Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics and how he’s getting old and his voice is crackly and maybe he should go to the gym and what’s going on with kids these days and….
A final thought: my friend has suggested Kozelek is becoming an outsider artist*. This makes sense – he’s doing things oddly, in a way others would avoid. He’s sing talking over drums and synth… he’s the indierock Wesley Willis!
Anyway, in the spirit of the album here is my track by track unedited take on each song. You may note it took me 4 days to listen to all of this.
*obviously he can’t be a true outsider as he has some self awareness and a career and all that.