Sun Kil Moon, “Universal Themes”
Sun Kil Moon
ROUGH TRADE/CALDO VERDE
Mark Kozelek’s roughneck iconoclasm continues on Sun Kil Moon’s latest, the exceedingly verbose, coyly titled Universal Themes. Enough has been made about the spillover of controversy that followed last year’s roundly lauded Benji involving Kozelek and a vitriolic meta-track called “War on Drugs: Suck My Cock,” and we thank you for that, Internet. Frankly, there are just so many other unsolicited stories vacuum-packed into Themes’ seventy minutes that even thinking about anything extraneous is an exercise in particle physics. And despite the titular suggestion of universality, make no mistake: these stories are all pointedly Kozelek’s own.
The record begins with its liveliest and best track, “The Possum,” which briefly relives the death of a displaced animal before adept classical guitar parlays into what feels like a double-album-spanning, fully exhaustive tour diary. Kozelek is a very talented guitarist and an inspired lyricist, not to mention impressively candid. But the unchecked onslaught of personal minutiae on Universal Themes seems to suggest that this artist’s hubris may have already gotten the best of him.