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Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon/Red House Painters/come on you know by now) chooses some odd bedfellows, I mean he didn’t exactly climb into bed with Modest Mouse but he covered an entire album’s worth of songs by them. I wouldn’t have put Jimmy Lavalle of The Album Leaf at the top of the list of potential collaborators, despite a fairly distinguished career his music hasn’t exactly set the world alight, yet here they are together. Lavelle does the music (twinkly electronica) and Kozelek handles all vocals (typically downtrodden).
The fact that Kozelek isn’t involved in the music means that the usual autumnal hues that run through his music are not present. It’s no Postal Service either - there are no great pop hooks about to leap out and Kozelek’s voice is so continually distraught he’s not going to be able to handle a ‘Such Great Heights’ type pop smash. Instead we get a very pleasant set of melancholic songs, the instrumental backing charmingly inoffensive with lots of longing, “everything-is-okay” warm synth notes stretching out for Kozelek to sing over.
There is plenty of space for the vocals and Kozelek is a little more wordy than usual, scatting a little at times, his voice more cracked than usual though some lovely lyrics especially on ‘Gustavo’ don’t pack the emotional punch they do on his Sun Kil Moon records. Musically ‘Baby In Death Can I Rest Next To Your Grave’ is a highlight with some soft sweet synth, it’s strange how ‘old’ Kozelek’s voice sounds in this context, like an old man singing over a younger mans music. Nicely, Lavelle brings some skittery drums into the mix which is much needed as the album is lacking in dynamism at times. ‘You Missed My Heart’ has a catchy country-ish lilt, the middle eight sounds remarkably like ‘Jingle Bells’. A pleasant enough diversion for Kozelek and if the idea of him singing over some sweet electronica is your bag then you are exactly in the right place.
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