Greatest hits: album reviews

Album of the week: Universal Themes by Sun Kil Moon

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 June, 2015, 11:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 June, 2015, 11:02pm

Moving on from his recent, well documented spat with The War on Drugs (the indie rock darlings, not America's ineffectual and outdated narcotics policy) singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek continues to spill out his heart over poignant acoustic rhythms with Sun Kil Moon's seventh album, Universal Themes.

Kozelek's rambling train of thought storytelling took a more autobiographical direction with last year's much-lauded and brutally honest Benji, and Universal Themes continues with the deeply personalised reflections on life and death and everything bittersweet in between.

Of the eight freewheeling garage folk songs here, only one, the bluesy pop-culture referencing yarn Ali/Spinks 2, clocks in under seven minutes, but Kozelek never once sounds as if he is about to run out of mumbled words. Accompanied by ex-Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, who fleshes out the percussion, the former Red House Painter manages to make the most mundane of activities sound poetic.

From the opener The Possum, a juxtaposition of observing a fatally injured furry creature and attending an industrial metal concert, to dead plants (the almost Led Zeppelin-esque Garden of Lavender) and broken teeth ( It's My First Day and I'm Indian and I Work at a Gas Station) these epic introspective monologues, partly spoken word and partly sung, have a tendency to ramble on, but this is in no way a bad thing.

On the propulsive Little Rascals, a song about the untimely passing of his girlfriend among many other things, Kozelek kicks back at death once again as he gruffly reminds us to "make the best of every day and every moment while you can, see the beauty in life, 'cause baby, you don't know when it's gonna end". Giving this album a spin is a start.

Sun Kil Moon Universal Themes (Caldo Verde/Rough Trade)