Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
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  1. 100
    The sparse musical arrangements and haunting production only serve to heighten the album’s intimacy and ultimately render it a masterpiece of reflection and introspection, destined to be played on repeat in scores of late-night, tired, and lonely rooms.
  2. 100
    One of the truest, wisest albums you’ll ever hear.
  3. Magnet
    Feb 21, 2014
    Benji isn't for everyone--what great albums are?--but it's a career-defining statement by a brilliant songwriter. [No. 106, p.59]
  4. Feb 3, 2014
    Benji sounds more like Kozelek relating events instead of crafting them, which makes the continuity and reflexivity of the record feel both uncanny and the work of protracted genius.
  5. Feb 26, 2014
    Benji contains some of the most evocative songs about mortality and youth that have ever been written.
  6. Feb 21, 2014
    A record whose main theme may be death, but whose power comes from Kozelek’s vivid celebration of life.
  7. Feb 20, 2014
    Benji, Mark Kozelek’s sixth album as Sun Kil Moon, is as abrasive as Pharmakon, as hauntingly emotive as Dean Blunt, and as disorienting as Oneohtrix Point Never.
  8. Feb 19, 2014
    It encourages you to empathise with the subjects of the songs, and therefore adds some light to the melancholy. It scores highly because it weaves all these scenarios and tales over subtle yet richly varied music. For Mark Kozelek this is yet another career highlight.
  9. Feb 12, 2014
    Kozelek’s sixth project under the Sun Kil Moon moniker, Benji, is his most intimate work yet, thoroughly documenting definitive moments that marked his past and continue to haunt his present.
  10. Kozelek’s rich, detailed lyrics here are revelatory, and the way he delivers them, in his sad, low, heartrending baritone, is nothing short of entrancing.
  11. Feb 10, 2014
    It isn't easy listening, akin to catching up with an over-sharing friend going through troubled times, but the stories are sad, funny and surprising, and the rewards are plentiful.
  12. Uncut
    Feb 3, 2014
    Benji is brutally sad, which may prove a deal-breaker for anyone who appreciated the comparatively light Among the Leaves, but it never feels gratuitous or exploitative. [Mar 2014, p.84]
  13. 90
    On Benji, and even more particularly on some of the live versions featured on the additional disc that accompanies the first ten thousand copies, Mark Kozelek is at least as piercing and persuasive as in his best output over the last two decades.
  14. Mar 12, 2014
    There's sex, drugs, crab cakes, and people you've never met and never will, including James Gandolfini and the children of Newtown, Conn., but their presence devastates nonetheless.
  15. Feb 6, 2014
    Making pain sound pretty and poetic is a tough tightrope to walk, but Kozelek once again takes all the right steps.
  16. Apr 2, 2014
    Kozelek replicates the rhythm of our lives, the tricks of memory, and the portents we later find in seemingly banal moments.
  17. Mojo
    Mar 21, 2014
    It sounds wonderful. [Apr 2014, p.96]
  18. 80
    This time round, the humour is more subtle but the observations on life, and increasingly death, are no less keen.
  19. Feb 14, 2014
    Kozelek is a songwriter operating with audacity and confidence, composing wry and forthright confessionals that investigate areas of everyday darkness and despair too rarely explored in popular song.
  20. Feb 10, 2014
    Benji is strong, cultish stuff, full of its own stink, full of stories about death and much, much smaller things; the stanzas are long and the yarns circular.
  21. Feb 10, 2014
    Kozelek, it seems, has nothing left to hide, or lose: the effect is utterly riveting.
  22. Feb 7, 2014
    Benji is the sound of an artist giving his heart to his fans and saying, “Do with it what you will.” That kind of vulnerability is a rare quality in the music business and as such, should be revered.
  23. Feb 6, 2014
    This guy has written 40-plus albums of material, so it's saying something that Benji is one of his more challenging listens.
  24. Feb 10, 2014
    It can be, and often is, dizzying to unpack the poetry, but it’s probably exactly the point from a brilliant, grieving mind full of verses, desperate to release them.
  25. Feb 11, 2014
    Folk singer Mark Kozelek's remarkable sixth album as Sun Kil Moon feels less like a collection of songs than a series of eulogies delivered in real time.
  26. Feb 4, 2014
    Kozelek’s lack of reservation here is something to be begrudgingly admired, as his willingness to make yet another album that is solely for himself and those obsessive fans who want all the gory details of his past. For the rest of the world, there’s not much here to make any real connection with.
  27. Q Magazine
    Mar 18, 2014
    Not his most graceful, but certainly his most strikingly personal, Benji is another colourful stop on Kozelek's glorious journey into the light. [Apr 2014, p.119]
  28. Feb 26, 2014
    Benji would have worked better as a series of EPs, playing to Kozelek's strength as a songwriter of certain stylistic preferences.
  29. Feb 10, 2014
    His hardcore following will no doubt celebrate it abundantly. Given its willful indulgence, however, others may find it a tipping point in the other direction.
  30. Feb 3, 2014
    Overall, your enjoyment of this album will depend on your patience and appreciation for Kozelek's idiosyncrasies. Sometimes he pulls it off wonderfully, and other times listeners might wish he'd left a little more to the imagination.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 135 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 4 out of 135
  1. Feb 11, 2014
    This album puts a stamp on Kozelek's career. I didn't expect that his role as the bass player in the fictional band Stillwater in the 1999This album puts a stamp on Kozelek's career. I didn't expect that his role as the bass player in the fictional band Stillwater in the 1999 movie "Almost Famous" (which I copied onto cassette tape back then) would not be the highlight of his career. Mark Kozelek sings (and plays acoustic guitar) about many of the things we all go through in life. I was especially intent on listening to the song "I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love" because my loving mother died only 6 weeks ago. The rest of the album, as well as that song, practically outlines (intentionally or not) through the soul's sojourn in the material world. Everyone - except maybe a saint - can relate to these true stories in song. They are beautiful songs even when the lyrics turn ugly, overtly sensual or speak of death. Birth, death, disease and old age are the things all of us souls go through in the material world (as one hears about in most George Harrison songs). While listening to these songs, I reflect on what my own life has been like, find parallels, and ironically, they make me think about how to make my life better. Finally, I love the melodies and denseness of this album and how the lone saxophone starts in towards the end of the album as if bringing all of his experiences and emotions into one final symphony. Spellbinding! Full Review »
  2. Feb 28, 2014
    I now have a base line for the worst album I have ever heard ... and it's name is Benji by Sun Kil Moon.

    The guitar in each song is the
    I now have a base line for the worst album I have ever heard ... and it's name is Benji by Sun Kil Moon.

    The guitar in each song is the same 3 boring, rambling finger picked chords for upwards of 8 minutes. The vocal is the least melodic single note monotone cringeworthy vocal line. The lyrics are the most self indulgent exploration into death I've ever heard. There is one song about how he will be sad if his mum dies and no one is allowed to talk **** about her, another song about how he loves his dad, another song about a couple of mass murders but he somehow makes it about him, a song about his pets
    Dying , an 8 minute song about his 2nd cousin dying - how sad he was even though he admits in the song he has only seen her once in 30 years ... And he didn't talk to her then ... He makes her death about him.
    Full Review »
  3. Mar 23, 2014
    This was my first Sun Kil Moon album, but wow. Rarely can an album evoke this much emotion and demand this much attention. You really have toThis was my first Sun Kil Moon album, but wow. Rarely can an album evoke this much emotion and demand this much attention. You really have to listen to the lyrics a few times and listen to the album all the way through. When I first heard it, I thought everything was so trivial that he was saying, and I only appreciated the music behind it. And some of it still is kind of trivial. But he's too real, honest and raw to not appreciate what he's saying as well. Full Review »