Following on from last years release of ‘Benji’, Mark Kozelek releases his latest album under the moniker of Sun Kil Moon titled ‘Universal Themes’. Full to the brim of quintessential Kozelek musical stylings, ‘Universal Themes’ sees Kozelek indulging himself in his incredibly natural talents of song-writing, whilst also incorporating some new ideas and themes here and there. Much of the album feels progressive for a Kozelek album, with the whole album effort being a huge step forward from the more stripped-back and bare albums of ‘Benji’ and ‘Among the Leaves’. At times, ‘Universal Themes’ feels a little challenging in places, though fans of the musician may find this to be one of the most interesting and engrossing albums to come from the musician yet.
‘Universal Themes’ expands much on everything Kozelek has built up on many of his previous releases. Kozelek’s trademark musical style is scattered around much of the album, as well as his natural ability to draw inspiration from his daily life and experiences. Unlike some of these previous albums though, there seems to be a slightly more experimental edge to much of the music. The long track times allow Kozelek to incorporate musical movements into the songs, both through the expression of his lyrics and the music accompanying those lyrics. It’s perhaps a little unorthodox at times, though it all seems to work incredibly well.
Those who were so enamored with Kozelek’s previous released going back to 2010’s ‘Admiral Fell Promises’, 2012’s ‘Among the Leaves’ and last years ‘Benji’ might perhaps find ‘Universal Themes’ to be too much of a step away from what was established by those albums. A much more prominent rock element dominates elements of ‘Universal Themes’, preventing the whole album experience from being one relaxing lyrical journey. None of these efforts push out on this latest album release ever seem to fail, and instead suggest even more talent from the musician, though it is perhaps a warning to those expecting another album of the same.
Kozelek’s latest album ‘Universal Themes’ isn’t by any means an easy listen, though it is one that seems to really stick around in one’s mind, both due to the musical merits in the songs and of course the lyrics that Kozelek pushes out. Something about the whole album effort seems and feels quite ambitious, though without it really coming with a loss of anything that makes Kozelek’s music so great. Kozelek may not have provided a follow-up chapter to last years’ ‘Benji’ with his latest album, but instead seems to have provided a whole other book to be enjoyed, that is arguably much rawer, but equally as intimate.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
- The Possum
- With A Sort Of Grace I Walked To The Bathroom To Cry
- Cry Me A River Williamsburg Sleeve Tattoo Blues
- Garden of Lavender
Sun Kil Moon’s latest album ‘Universal Themes’ is out now.