Benji Image
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85

Universal acclaim - based on 30 Critic Reviews What's this?

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8.5

Universal acclaim- based on 134 Ratings

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  • Summary: The sixth full-length release for Mark Kozelek as Sun Kil Moon includes contributions from Owen Ashworth, Will Oldham, Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley, and Jen Wood.
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  • Record Label: Caldo Verde Records
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
  • More Details and Credits »

Top Track

Ben's My Friend
I woke up this morning, August, 3rd It's been a pretty slow and uneventful summer Went to visit a friend in Santa Fe Went to New Orleans and went to... See the rest of the song lyrics
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  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. Feb 3, 2014
    92
    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.
  3. Feb 20, 2014
    90
    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.
  4. Feb 7, 2014
    80
    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.
  5. Apr 2, 2014
    80
    Kozelek replicates the rhythm of our lives, the tricks of memory, and the portents we later find in seemingly banal moments.
  6. Feb 14, 2014
    80
    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.
  7. Feb 3, 2014
    55
    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.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 24
  2. Negative: 1 out of 24
  1. Feb 11, 2014
    10
    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! Expand
  2. Aug 26, 2015
    10
    It's beautiful and it brought me to tears. I have a feeling this album is gonna be staying with me closely for the next few decades.

    That's
    It's beautiful and it brought me to tears. I have a feeling this album is gonna be staying with me closely for the next few decades.

    That's enough of a reason to give it a 10 to me.
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  3. Mar 24, 2020
    10
    This is my second favourite album of all time.

    My first time hearing a project lead by Mark Kozelek was Sun Kil Moon's album 'Common as
    This is my second favourite album of all time.

    My first time hearing a project lead by Mark Kozelek was Sun Kil Moon's album 'Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood', which was released in 2016 - and it fascinated me. It provided intricate storytelling through a combination of singing and spoken word (the latter of which seems to be the artistic directon that Kozelek is heading), so I decided to go back and explore his catalogue... little did I realise how many albums he had released - a vast array of solo studio albums, EP's, live albums, cover albums, compilations, Sun Kil Moon albums (Kozelek's second band), Collaboration Albums (with Jesu, Desert Shore, Jimmy LaVelle and more), and Red House Painter albums (Kozelek's first band).

    I began my journey with the 2014 Sun Kil Moon release, 'Benji', expecting another spoken-word infused folk album which implemented experimental sounds inspired by rock and hip-hop. But to my pleasant suprise, what I got was a far more personal, haunting and brutally honest storytelling-based folk album, with a splash of jazz.

    Mark Kozelek is probably the best storyteller I have ever heard, with each song tells recounting events, and how they affected him personally. He goes into such depth, recalling details that seem almost unnecessary, yet so essential. These are songs that you have to really listen too, as opposed to just playing in the background - a pair of headphones and dedicated listening time is the best way of approaching 'Benji'.

    Thematically this album is dark - somebody dies in nearly every track... most of whom are relatives of Kozelek, friends, or people from his home town... and serial killer Richard Ramirez. The track 'Truck Driver' begins with the lines "My uncle died in a fire on his birthday" which really sums up how jarringly raw and stripped back this album is. The final track, which is the only upbeat song, incorporates jazz as an instrumental break, and perfectly caps off the record on a contrasting high note (though it was originally recorded with a much darker tone).

    Told in a fairly soft & monotone, yet captivating voice, atop primarily acoustic guitars, Kozelek handles the production, which is really well done. There is also dark humour to be found, which breaks through the relentless meloncholy, adding to the personality found all over this already highly personal album. The entire project essentially acts as an emotional process to help Mark leave certain thoughts into he past.

    Every track is a favourite, but if I had to choose, I would go with: 'Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes' (the drums put you in a trance), 'I love my Dad', 'Dogs' (which recalls Marks first sexual experiences), 'Ben's my Friend' (the upbeat final track) and 'Micheline' (which perfectly sets the mature and depressing tone of the album. In this track, he also makes reference to a film he saw in the cinema as a child entitled 'Benji', which he, of course, subsequently named the album).

    The artwork happens to be an image taken by my favourite photographer Nyree Watts, who provides cover art for many of Kozelek's albums. In my opinion there are no negatives to be found on this album, and I recommend it to anybody that is fan of genuine music and is looking for an album to pick apart. The more I listen, the more I hear, still to this day. Even if Kozelek is a reincarnation of Andy Kaufman's character Tony Clifton. 10/10.
    Expand
  4. Jun 25, 2014
    9
    No time to discuss:
    I had never heard of Sun Kil Moon until the critical acclaim of this album started pouring in. I still haven't listened
    No time to discuss:
    I had never heard of Sun Kil Moon until the critical acclaim of this album started pouring in. I still haven't listened to the other albums, laughing at how meta this album is.

    Favourite Tracks: Most of 'em

    Least Favourite Track: Dogs

    Overall score: 88-92/100
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  5. Apr 17, 2014
    9
    This was an interesting listen. Although somewhat inaccessible at times (especially on "Dogs" and "I Watched the Film The Song Remains theThis was an interesting listen. Although somewhat inaccessible at times (especially on "Dogs" and "I Watched the Film The Song Remains the Same") it can be achingly beautiful, with lyrics that are just as deep as they think they are.
    Best Tracks - "Ben's My Friend", "Truck Driver", "Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes", "Dogs"
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  6. Feb 12, 2014
    8
    This is the first of Mark Kozelek's albums for me to hear, so I didn't know what to expect at first. But i ended up liking what i heard. TheThis is the first of Mark Kozelek's albums for me to hear, so I didn't know what to expect at first. But i ended up liking what i heard. The music is mostly minimal, giving room for the lyrics to shine. They are truly beautiful, as well as heartbreaking.

    On the other hand, i wish the album was more like the closing track (Ben's My Friend). That's my favorite track of them all. Great lyrics, accompanied by some of the most terrific music i heard in quite some time. It somewhat reminded me of Kaputt, the 2011 album by Destroyer.

    Other tracks i liked: Carissa, I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love, and Jim Wise.

    Overall, a very satisfying album, and i'm looking forward to checking out his previous work.
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  7. Feb 28, 2014
    0
    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.
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See all 24 User Reviews