I like this album a lot, and I think that it'll probably grow on me with time as well.
Sun Kil Moon, or Mark Kozelek, is an american singer-songwriter with quite a consistent reputation to his records, since the 90's. However, I don't really have a whole lot to say about him cause Benji is the first record of his that I gave a listen to, so let's dive right into the review.
Benji is a projects that examines grief, melancholy, and begs the question - why? What's behing all of this? Why do people suffer, die, here one moment and the next are gone? Oh, yeah, this album is quite melancholic, I'd say. Even so, it does a great job in asking this question, and making the listener emotionally involved. Mark's stories are personal, heartfelt and well-told here - from his second cousin that was burned to death in a freak accident, Carissa, through his relationship with his parents and to stories that were connected to him only a little, loosely. Mark is moved by all of this, drowning in melancholy and questions about life and death. Drawn to grief. We can hear it in Mark's delivery. He sounds broken, emotional, moved.
I like the production and the general musical aesthetic, too - it's very simplistic, but yet it has a lot of little details (like reverb on the vocals on certain parts, drums, electric piano, a sax even) that add so much to the experience. Much like the music, btw, Mark's lyrics are often quite simplistic as well, but every song is written in such a manner, such investment, with so many little motives and strong ideas. A great songwriting, front to back.
I did have some problems with it. For example, I think that track 8, I Watched the Film “The Song Remains the Same”, tho interesting on paper comes off a little lengthy (10:30 minutes, and it doesn't have much to it musically). I do like its idea, and its subtle message about Mark's eternal connection to melancholy - the song indeed remains the same - but it's not interesting enough musically, at least for me. I also think that the simplistic writing may come off a little awkward as well from time to time, especially on first listens. But overall, this project is really solid and I don't have a lot of criticism towards it.
Top Three Tracks: Carissa, Ben's My Friend, Jim Wise (I gotta say, the way that this album ends with Micheline and then Ben's My Friend is so damn great. It concludes everything in a perfect way.)
Least Fav Track: I Watched the Film “The Song Remains the Same”
So, yeah. Benji by Sun Kil Moon is a strong emotional piece, and I like this project a lot. Will probably grow on me with time, but right now I'm feeling an 8.6 on this one. Give it a listen.