If there is something to be admired about Mark Kozelek, it’s that he doesn’t waste any time. Without missing a beat Koz has jumped into another Long Player after his 2015 effort, Universal Themes. This time he’s teamed up with Justin Broadrick, aka Jesu, for a collab not dissimilar in feel to Perils from the Sea, an album Kozelek made with Jimmy Lavalle (The Album Leaf) three years ago. Jesu/Sun Kil Moon also features some impressive cameos in the form of backup vocalists: Isaac Brock, Low, and Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell.
Like Lavalle’s role during the making of Perils… Broadrick, it seems, created instrumental tracks that Koz later added vocals to. It’s hard to say if Koz had any hand in the instrumentation as throughout it feels very much the brainchild of Broadrick. As a result we’re left with a SKM album that’s sludgier, doomier, and more shoegazey than about anything Koz has had his hand in. It also means Koz gets the green light to yelp and howl and tell stories of life’s minutiae, which, at this point if you’re a fan you’re bound to expect it.
Jesu / Sun Kil Moon – Jesu / Sun Kil Moon
(Caldo Verde, 2016)
Though he does occasionally fall flat in his pursuits on the record, like on the overly wordy and all-together aimless “Carondelet” and “Sally,” Koz is still plugging away and proving he’s one of the better vocalists around. His range and memory for incredibly complex songs is something to behold, and when Broadrick intentionally slows things down we get to hear that complexity in tandem with the SKM that fans have come to appreciate for over a decade.
I’m still torn over Kozelek’s recent turn towards a more regurgitated, stream of consciousness lyrical style, but if one pays close attention to the first half of “America’s Most Wanted Mark Kozelek and John Dillinger” it becomes evident how much better he’s gotten at it. The track eventually loses some steam but is followed by “Exodus,” a softly sung tribute to all the bereaved parents of the world. “Exodus” is named after Mike Tyson’s daughter, who died at age four in a bizarre home treadmill accident. Nick Cave and his son are also mentioned, among others. Exodus is a heartfelt dedication that possess not a shred of insincerity and is contender for the album’s best song.
Jesu/Sun Kil Moon ends on the 14 minute, ambient-backed “Beautiful You”, where Koz sing/talks his way through aspects of daily life. Occasionally, the stories he tells segue appropriately back to the chorus, but more often than not they don’t. Koz doesn’t seem too worried about it either way. Ultimately, “Beautiful You” is among the songs that work on an album with a few major holes. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting addition to both artists’ respective catalogs. With time it may even be considered a milestone.