Among the Leaves
Sun Kil Moon
Caldo Verde Records.
I’ve been a late-bloomer over the course of my entire relationship with Sun Kil Moon. Arriving in time for 2008’s April and anxiously awaiting 2010’s Admiral’s Fell Promises didn’t accelerate those records’ slow-burning intensity, although both placed well on SCQ’s Top Twenty Albums lists, respectively. But music this isolated and sparse shouldn’t take so long to digest, should it?
I mean, Mark Kozelek’s greatest smoke-and-mirrors – his strictness against embellishment, insistence on saying exactly what he wants (regardless of how long it takes) and an oft-mumbling delivery – should be weakened by the straight-up candor of Among the Leaves, but it isn’t. Taking direct shots at former loves, life on the road, aging friends, sad-sack fans and occasionally himself, Kozelek’s restlessness no longer weaves a subtext but the diary-detailed plot of Among the Leaves. And somehow, perhaps thanks to the record’s very Sun Kil Moon-ish length, these seventeen songs hide their graces for that unassuming upteenth listen, when Kozelek’s lonely croon hits your headphones at the most opportune moment.
Granted, there’s more than enough evidence to support the idea that Kozelek’s writing more for himself than any of his fans, but that’s part of what makes his records so exceptionally insular. Getting lost in Among the Leaves’ pristine guitar work and instrumental subtleties, to the point where the bludgeoning force of Kozelek’s lyrics fall completely unexpected into our laps, is a sorrowful joy to behold, ensuring a rare immediacy amid one of indie-rock’s more impenetrable catalogs.