It’ll be a while before anyone wraps their head around Sun Kil Moon’s new album. Seldom has there been an album so confessional, so real. Pinkerton is the only one in recent memory that springs to mind. But that’s got nothing on Benji.

Why Mark Kozelek felt the need to put out a collection of songs with such explicit autobiographical detail is hard to fathom, but it’s incredibly fascinating, and a remarkable achievement. The music is not the focus, but thankfully it serves its purpose well, retaining the trademark slowcore folk Kozelek’s been playing all his career.

The portraits he paints are not flattering; not the stories he tells in these 11 songs nor how he handles them. Opener ‘Carissa’, for example, is about his second cousin, who died in a freak accident taking out the garbage. Kozelek makes it about himself, admitting: “I didn’t know her well”. That of course is what everyone does when someone in their lives passes, making sense of it by focusing on how they fit into the picture. Kozelek is just being incredibly, brutally honest, as he is for the entire album.

“It’s a complicated place / This planet we’re on.” Indeed.

This is main man Mark Kozelek’s memoirs, diary and ID, set to music.

4.5/5 stars.

Benji is available now through Caldo Verde/Spunk

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