Apr 18, 2013 Web Exclusive
Sun Kil Moon's 2010-released fourth full LP, Admiral Fell Promises, was their first effort that sounded exclusively like a Mark Kozelek solo record. What may then have been an anomaly has since become de rigueur in Kozelek's oeuvre: a neatly plucked, nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, that distinctive voice... and nothing else. Perhaps it's telling, then, that the charmingly titled Like Rats is released under his own name; the sprawling weightiness that was to be found on earlier Sun Kil Moon—and indeed Red House Painters—albums, loaded with electric guitar and songs whose beauty was rooted in their epic scale, has gone by the wayside and with them the need for any pretense of the same artistic goals.
Or perhaps not. Admiral Fell Promises and last year's follow-up Among the Leaves were still original material, characterised by Kozelek's penchant for experimentation and subtle, gorgeous imagery in the lyrics. Perhaps a covers album featuring songs by the likes of Bruno Mars and Ted Nugent is something Kozelek wants to keep away from his other carefully honed project.
The impressive thing about Like Rats is that no matter what the original genre of the song—be it Nugent's cock rock shit, Mars' bland pop shit, Sonny and Cher's saccharine duet shit, or The Descendents' actually half-decent punk—it's injected with a mumbling but aching humanity. On the downside, the album ends up sounding exactly the same as the ones Kozelek has been putting out for a few years now. It's lovely, it's almost moving until you remember what you're listening to, but it's hugely inessential. (http://www.markkozelek.com)
Author rating: 5.5/10
Average reader rating: 5/10