The same delightful rambling
Some artists seemingly coast by on force of personality. There’s certainly a place for people like this, artists like Kanye West have become some of the most memorable creators of their respective generations, largely because of their perceived authenticity. Mark Kozolek (also known as Sun Kil Moon) is one of those artists. On his latest record as Sun Kil Moon, he continues to delight and potentially infuriate audiences with the same delightful rambling that has made him both hugely loved and deeply detested.
At a certain point, one has to ask themselves what they expect in terms of evolution from an artist. Some people require their favorite musicians to constantly change and evolve, forever keeping the audience on their toes, while others prefer consistency. Kozolek is very much on the latter end of the spectrum. If you don’t know what you’re getting into with a Sun Kil Moon album, a disclaimer is warranted. These albums are long, rambling and often without too much of a direct or hyper meaningful point. However, if storytelling for the sake of it is something that appeals to you, then there really isn’t a better artist to listen to.
In keeping with much of his post-Benji output, This is My Dinner is a deeply unfocused album, though in a strange way, it flows pretty well. Instead of being unfocused in the sense of musicality or instrumentation, it’s more in the lyricism. Fans of Kozolek will not be surprised by this and may find it endearing, but in general, it can become a little grating. Each single slice of life story is so minutely focused on instances that it becomes difficult to discern what you’re supposed to pull out of each individual song, a few of them have memorable anecdotes that dovetail in and out of pointless ramblings, the most touching of which is when Kozolek flies back from Norway to see his dying cat and repeats to himself “Please Pink don’t die on me” in his journal to keep his mind focused.
Other ramblings about boxers (the athlete, not the apparel) populate the excellent and hilarious “Linda Blair” and the alright “Copenhagen.” “Linda Blair” is likely to be the biggest standout for many as it features energetic variations on the otherwise soothing instrumentation of the album, and is sure to draw laughs as Kozolek imitates death metal screams and the ghastly growling of Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
Ultimately, this is a Sun Kil Moon album for better or worse. It feels as though each of these songs could or could not be connected, and it really wouldn’t matter either way. This does work to its detriment when listened to as a whole, and obviously, the crowd interaction portions on “David Cassidy” and other tracks fall flat when heard in headphones. Yet if you’re in the mood for a story or a rather odd cover of “Come on Get Happy,” there isn’t a better storyteller in all of music. Whether the stories are worth hearing, however, is going to depend on you.