Mark Kozelek, formerly of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, sure keeps busy. Here he is with a piano-and-voice-based album of covers, taking in choice selections from artists like Modest Mouse, Bob Seger and David Bowie. Sings Favourites also has some guest singing from Will Oldham, Mike Patten and Mimi Parker (of Low). On Caldo Verde.

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Sings Favorites by Mark Kozelek
1 review. Write a review for us »
5/10 Clinton 23 May 2016

The saddest thing is that he thinks he’s making us cry.

This is the sound of Mark Kozelek, late at night after offending everyone in the building, sitting by the piano (not actually playing it - that seems to be left to someone else) singing some of his favourite songs. Unfortunately his favourites are already much-covered standards and part of the enjoyment with this record is waiting to see which tired old song he’s going to schmaltz-ruin next.

The good news is that Kozelek is using his ‘old’ singing voice so we’re not getting the croaky rapping he’s been utilising for the last few albums and as a result we are reminded that he does indeed still have a lovely voice. Also good news is that as these are covers so we don’t have to be subjected to lyrics about the contents of his hotel room or his latest fan letter.

The bad news is pretty much everything else. I’m not convinced this album needed to happen and I’m not convinced by Kozelek’s sincerity. All his songs now sound like hapless middle aged golf guy attempts to seduce the latest pretty young thing to cross his wizened path. So we get ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, ‘Moon River’ and 10CC’s ‘I’m Not In Love’ (where the insane middle section is actually handled with aplomb). The funniest song is ‘Something Stupid’ where he changes the lyrics to “and then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like Get In Line Bitch”.

Actually, no he doesn’t.

I don’t like many songs on this record but in the interest of fairness I should mention that his take on David Bowie’s “Win” is lovely (and includes a surprise Mike Patton on backing vox) and I for one (not the rest of our office) enjoyed his re-work of Modest Mouse’s ‘Float On’ (marking his 4865th Modest Mouse cover to date). Elsewhere Roy Harper’s ‘Another Day’ is unruinable at the best of times even if you just spend it’s three and a bit minutes harking after the This Mortal Coil take. Thing is though, the entire record is piano and vocals so there's none of his expert guitar plucking and most of the songs are played pretty straight so none of his ‘What’s Next to the Moon’ style melody altering.

What we have instead a fairly dreary collection of standards with a few nice bits thrown in. The comic relief is provided by its resemblance to the medley sung by Tony De Wonderful on Police Squad (go to 2:05). Kozelek’s melancholy these days is too shot through with the sound of ringing cash registers to be anyway affecting. Still, this is probably better than ‘Benji’ (..........cue outrage alert).



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