Sun Kil Moon – Universal Themes

Album Review by Colm McAuliffe | 29 May 2015
Album title: Universal Themes
Artist: Sun Kil Moon
Label: Rough Trade
Release date: 1 Jun

By the end of The Possum, the first track on Sun Kil Moon’s follow-up to last year’s ultra-acclaimed Benji, the universal themes that mainman Mark Kozelek woozily implores us to consider revolve around Birmingham industrial metallers Godflesh, pianist and composer Maurice Ravel and the sad fate of the track's eponymous arboreal marsupial species. These super-specific pop culture references, assuaged by lyrics which are essentially morbid short stories with little recourse for conventional song metre or rhyme are quintessential Kozelek in 2015. The wilful idiosyncrasy is indulgent but incredibly compelling; is he now singing about Ry Cooder film soundtracks on Ali/Spinks 2?

Hang on, he has already moved on to descriptions of True Detective on DVD and a 25 year old book about The Doors. Of course, there’s more to Kozelek than merely a 21st century Lloyd Cole of lyricism; his guitar playing is exemplary, especially in tandem with the subtle punctuation of erstwhile Sonic Youth man Steve Shelley on percussion. As the name suggests, Universal Themes is an uncommonly vast album but the warped homespun wisdom of Kozelek in full flight ensures his soaring, perambulating muse is never entirely out of reach.

Playing RNC Concert Hall, Manchester on 19 Jul and Summerhall, Edinburgh on 10 Aug