Andy Whitman on Sun Kil Moon’s April, Plus My Initial Reaction

Mark Kozelek
Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek

I finally have a copy of April in my hands and am just now starting to listen to it (along with Ghosts Of The Great Highway as a refresher), and I couldn’t agree more with Andy Whitman’s observations:

April, [Mark Kozelek’s] third album under the Sun Kil Moon moniker, is the perfect encapsulation of memory and longing. He conjures up the past again and again, mining his sometimes idyllic, sometimes dysfunctional Ohio childhood, his turbulent adolescence and young adulthood, all the lost loves who tarried for a time and are now gone, lost to everything but the mind’s eye. He could be singing about when he was fifteen. Or twenty five. Or forty.

It’s an approach that is fraught with potential melodrama and saccharine sentimentality, and it shouldn’t work. Nor does it help that Kozelek can’t write a concise song to save his brooding life, and three of the eleven songs on April stretch out to the ten-minute mark. Several more hover in the six-to-eight minute range. Impossibly, though, it works wonderfully. At a long, long 74 minutes, April is both an endurance test and a quietly remarkable example of how to sustain a mood across vast stretches of time.

…if Kozelek simply writes the same album again and again, let it be noted that he does it better than anyone since Elliott Smith, and that he gives the blessed Nick Drake a pretty good run for his melancholy money.

I’m only two songs into April, and this is how good it is (so far, at least): when he sings “I haunt the streets of San Francisco/Watch over loved ones and old friends/I see them trough their living room windows/Shaken by fear and worries/I want them to know how I love them so” on “Lost Verses,” it makes me want to just break down and sob, right here in front of my co-workers.

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