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Album Review: Mark Kozelek falls from grace in ‘This Is My Dinner’

We must ask ourselves how one of the most consistently stellar musicians of a previous decade released the album “This Is My Dinner,” which includes diatribes about candle safety and an admittedly well-done impression of the girl from “The Exorcist.”

Mark Kozelek is an anomaly. He founded and fronted the pioneering band of the slowcore genre, Red House Painters. With Kozelek at the creative helm, the band released a consistent run of some of the 90s’ greatest albums — i.e. “Down Colourful Hill” and “Red House Painters [Rollercoaster].”

The band went its separate ways in the early 2000s and Kozelek formed a new outfit titled Sun Kil Moon. Releasing the monumental “Ghosts of the Great Highway,” Kozelek traded the slowcore elements of his previous band for a faster-paced, more poppy sound, while still maintaining the somber atmosphere of his 90s output.

While I will always love Kozelek, there is a palpable sense that his brain is irreversibly withering with each new album. His free-write, no-filter, off-the-top-of-his-head lyrical style is at its most unfocused and incomprehensible. This album felt like a conversation with my dementia-patient father who can only recall stories of when he lived in Texas.

All that being said, this album can actually be pretty entertaining when it’s not mind-numbingly boring and pointless.

The album begins with “This Is Not Possible,” an incredibly weak opener featuring a soft-jazz-rock loop instrumental and Kozelek’s Yelp review style rants about various cities in Europe. There’s a call and response element with back-up vocalists, which I’d probably like if I didn’t hate it. Kozelek implies in this song that his favorite novel is “Catcher in the Rye,” which makes sense since Holden also didn’t have any sense of self-editing or outside perspective.

Next we’ve got the title track. It suffers from the same issues as the opener, but this one is about three minutes longer, which makes it a whopping 12 minutes and 36 seconds. This song presents the epitome of humanity’s duality, and I doubt Kozelek did that intentionally.

The next three songs all run over 10 minutes and suffer from the issues of these first two, aside from “Linda Blair.” This song actually features the instrumental progression that should be featured in a double-digit minute song. We get a math-rocky guitar loop that leads into a soft-rock hook that then yields to a cathartic rock ensemble song ending. Unfortunately, the song lacks any sort of thematic element. Just Kozelekean observations, antics and opinions, which at the very least is entertaining.

In the three-song run, “David Cassidy,” “Come on Get Happy” and “Rock ‘n’ roll Singer” Kozelek mourns the death of his childhood hero, David Cassidy, and then covers the theme song of the show “The Partridge Family,” of which Cassidy was the star. After that, Kozelek covers the latter mentioned AC/DC song. The eulogy is genuine, the covers are well-done and personalized, so this streak is the definite high point of the album. That being said, this three-song run only comprises 12 minutes of a 90 minute album. Definitely not ideal.

The album’s final songs, “Soap for Joyful Hands” and “Chapter 87 of He” wallow in the unedited, excessive, self-important pile of filth that is “This Is My Dinner.”

To allow this review the brevity that this album lacks, I’ll keep these song descriptions brief.

“Soap for Joyful Hands” is an instrumentally and lyrically uninteresting 13-minute tale of Kozelek’s near death experience that ends with him washing socks in a hotel sink. “Chapter 87 of He” features Kozelek reading an excerpt from the much more interesting written work “He” by John Connolly. Read the book, don’t listen to this song. The only redeeming quality of this song instrumentally is the Spiritualized-esque drop into musical chaos featured in the latter half of the song. That was honestly cool, if not a tad derivative.

With this album, not only have the mighty fallen, but the mighty have fallen and he can’t get up. Mark Kozelek needs a musical life-alert before he ruins his astonishing legacy with the stories your grumpy, long-winded grandpa tells you when he corners you at a family gathering.

2 / 5

 

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