Sun Kil Moon - Benji
Critic Score
Based on 24 reviews
2014 Ratings: #12 / 845
Year End Rank: #10
User Score
Based on 743 ratings
2014 Ratings: #11
February 11, 2014 / Release Date
LP / Format
Caldo Verde / Label
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
Pretty Much Amazing

The sparse musical arrangements and haunting production only serve to heighten the album’s intimacy and ultimately render it a masterpiece of reflection and introspection, destined to be played on repeat in scores of late-night, tired, and lonely rooms. 

100
The Independent

One of the truest, wisest albums you’ll ever hear.

92
Pitchfork

While Benji is consumed with death, sadness, mourning, and tragedy, there's gratitude within all this melancholy and it’s actually Kozelek’s least depressing and most life-affirming record

90
The Line of Best Fit

On Benji, and even more particularly on some of the live versions featured on the additional disc that accompanies the first ten thousand copies, Mark Kozelek is at least as piercing and persuasive as in his best output over the last two decades.

90
Exclaim!

It isn't easy listening, akin to catching up with an over-sharing friend going through troubled times, but the stories are sad, funny and surprising, and the rewards are plentiful.

90
No Ripcord

Kozelek creates because it’s his need, a blessing that cannot be wasted. And Benji is his way of showing gratitude to those who enriched his life to its greatest capacity.

90
The 405

The songs feature remarkably detailed scenes from Kozelek's life, but by attaching them to the universal theme of death he gives them much more gravitas. Somehow, despite all the personal details, this seems far from self-indulgent.

90
Tiny Mix Tapes

The whole production would be grotesquely comical if it didn’t feel so unflinchingly, unapologetically sincere. And here’s the thing. Benji doesn’t resonate in spite of its awkwardness, but wholly because of it. 

90
FACT Magazine

Though Mark Kozelek has few equals when it comes to dislodging lumps in throats, Benji is his most emotionally taxing Sun Kil Moon record by some way.

90
Drowned in Sound

Benji contains some of the most evocative songs about mortality and youth that have ever been written.

90
Sputnikmusic

By the end of Benji, death is on the mind for the rest of us too. The mood is drab, but it's so masterfully put together you can't help but be sucked in to the bleak reality of Kozelek's existence. 

83
Consequence of Sound

By keeping things simple and letting it all hang out, the singer manages to add another solid batch of darkly confessional indie folk tracks to his already hefty CV.

80
Spin

This guy has written 40-plus albums of material, so it's saying something that Benji is one of his more challenging listens.

80
PopMatters

Sardonic, scathingly witty at times, and always painfully autobiographical, Benji is the sound of an artist giving his heart to his fans and saying, “Do with it what you will.” 

80
musicOMH

Kozelek is a songwriter operating with audacity and confidence, composing wry and forthright confessionals that investigate areas of everyday darkness and despair too rarely explored in popular song.

80
NME

Kozelek has a novelist’s eye for detail, and right from languid opener ‘Carissa’ – a song about his second cousin – he paints a vivid world and invites you to see it through his eyes.

80
FasterLouder
Kozelek’s reflections are profound and arresting, not to mention necessary listening for anyone grappling with their own mortality.
80
Northern Transmissions

Middle age suits Kozelek well ... as he’s grown into his personality as a lyricist. A bit jaded, but sounding as contented as we’ve ever heard him.

80
The Observer

Benji, roughly his 13th album, might well be this difficult artist's most direct work, possibly the most devastating this career melancholic has ever penned.

70
Rolling Stone

Folk singer Mark Kozelek's remarkable sixth album as Sun Kil Moon feels less like a collection of songs than a series of eulogies delivered in real time. 

68
Paste

Kozelek’s lack of reservation here is something to be begrudgingly admired, as his willingness to make yet another album that is solely for himself and those obsessive fans who want all the gory details of his past. For the rest of the world, there’s not much here to make any real connection with.

60
AllMusic

It's so intimate, the listener is, by definition, a voyeur. His hardcore following will no doubt celebrate it abundantly. Given its willful indulgence, however, others may find it a tipping point in the other direction.

55
Under The Radar

Overall, your enjoyment of this album will depend on your patience and appreciation for Kozelek's idiosyncrasies. Sometimes he pulls it off wonderfully, and other times listeners might wish he'd left a little more to the imagination.

MarkCooper
94
I consider myself very lucky to be able to experience Mark's music from my point of view. The 330 area code, Brewster, Canton, Wadsworth, relatives burning trash in the yard, Panera Bread... these are all things I can connect with so personally considering I grew up in the exact area Mark did. When I consider the most intimate artists making music today, I would include Mark. I think it's natural to automatically connect with an artist who shares a hometown with you. I feel extraordinarily ... read more
BradTasteMusic
89
This album is fantastic and I literally didn't care for this southern folk sound until I heard this. The writing is unreal. It is excellent front to back
ElectricMess
90
Ramble on, Mark Kozelek... ramble on...
lemuriams
94
A wonderful album that seemed overrated at first, but then I realized that I was just a human and I could be stupid. Sun Kil Moon never played better guitars and Mark Kozelek never sang so well. Man sometimes needs many years to understand such albums.
Doofy
97
Divisive.

This will either command your attention or you'll run screaming from the room.
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Track List

  1. Carissa
  2. I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love
  3. Truck Driver
  4. Dogs
  5. Pray For Newtown
  6. Jim Wise
  7. I Love My Dad
  8. I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same
  9. Richard Ramirez Died Today Of Natural Causes
  10. Micheline
  11. Ben's My Friend
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Added on: December 14, 2013