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The last two Sun Kil Moon albums,the drifting Spanish guitar-led 'Admiral Fell Promises' and the lengthy devastating paean to love and loss 'April', were in my opinion the greatest two albums of Mark Kozelek's long career. And that is saying something when you consider the devastating beauty of his back catalogue.
It therefore comes as a slight disappointment that this album ditches the hazy, drifting, longing songs for much shorter, snappier songs that are ditty-like in their construction and not half as affecting. The lyrics are a grave cause for concern as someone who has time after time made me weep with an expertly turned phrase now is singing lines like “Pullin' my guitar out of its green velvet case/a hundred set lists starin' at my face”...okay, thats the worst example and there's a lot of tongue in cheek irony on show here but it doesn't really help the album worm its way into your cranium.
The production and playing is a lot more simple than previous work and misses the lush guitars and double tracked voice that made 'Admiral Fell Promises' so special. That all said (and I have a lot more gripes, believe me) there is still a lot here to admire and if this was anyone else I'd probably be singing its praises from the highest rooftop.
The album gets better as it goes on as the songs settle down and the gorgeous finger picked acoustic songwriting of earlier work is more to the fore, particularly on 'Young Love' - truly beautiful. This comes in a double CD version, gorgeously packaged with an extra CD of alternate and live versions.
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