Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Admiral Fell Promises, Sun Kil Moon

I have been a fan of Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek for many years. Since he performed and released CDs under the moniker Red House Painters. Red House Painters’ self titled (Rollercoaster) album is a beautiful, mellow experience. Under the name Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek releases music very similar to his Red House Painter albums. But, there is a bit of an eerie darkness at play in the lyrics and music. A darker step than Red House Painters.

Sun Kil Moon’s first release, Ghost of the Great Highway, is an album superior to most. Almost every song is a guitar heavy folk exploration down a gritty dirt road. The standout track “Carry Me Ohio” will always bring me close to tears. This album was followed up by a strange experimental release, Tiny Cities. Mark Kozelek stripped down Modest Mouse songs and performed them in his typical style. Many view Modest Mouse as a poppy, mediocre band. But, early Modest Mouse is still a collection of great songs. And, they are brought back to life on Tiny Cities. The next album, April, is a pretty mediocre album in the Sun Kil Moon oeuvre. No single song stands out against the other. And, the album just kind of left my mind.

On the fourth, and most recent release, Sun Kil Moon has shown some growth, improvement, and a need to strip away the layers. On Admiral Fell Promises, Kozelek has entered the world of classical guitar. Many of the songs start and end with a hushed session of guitar strings gone spiritual. I am not a fan of classical guitar. In fact, I am mostly bored with classical guitar. But, what makes the guitar so successful on this album is Kozelek’s voice. He has always sung with a voice wavering on the edge of tears, like a shattered man with no time left to reveal his truths. There is a longing to release every last piece of self that comes from Kozelek’s throat. It is haunting, intense, and strange. His voice is the voice of ghosts. A Neil Young-esque experience. The hushed, classical guitar allows for his voice to really take over the album.

"Half Moon Bay" is the most gorgeous song on the album.


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