Yet another album by Mark Kozelek, and my questions are as strong as ever. Does he mean it or is he taking the piss? Does he really hate guys in tennis shoes? Does he realise that guys in tennis shoes are the ones who buy his albums? Does he think he is a genius? Are there limits to this phenomenal self-indulgence? Is he Jesus Christ? Does he think he is Jesus Christ? Is his new album any good?
Etc. Etc. Etc.
We really don’t care how pretentious are favourite artists are. After all, you are not going to slag off Jim Morrison. But I feel like Mark is teetering on the edge here. Last time around, on Benji, he had the tunes and the flow. Last time around, he wrote “Richard Ramirez Died Today Of Natural Causes” (clearly the greatest song of 2014). He almost had subtlety drowning in the sea of seemingly pointless, long-winded narratives.
This time, with Universal Themes, he is testing your patience. He is patchy, he is all over the place. His self-confidence is unbearable. And yet his personality almost makes up for every flaw and Sun Kil Moon’s latest is still head and shoulders above most of the stuff I’ve heard all year.