by Kyle Fleck
on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 9:39 AM
(Neptune Theatre) Mark Kozelek began his career as Sun Kil Moon writing the sort of hypnotically depressive tunes that initially garnered him notice as the brains behind cult-fave mope-rock outfit Red House Painters: “Carry Me Ohio,” an early highlight from 2003’s Ghosts of the Great Highway, set a new standard for sad-sack anthems. His new album, Benji, finds the 46-year-old songwriter grappling with aging and memory, along the way eulogizing the lives and deaths of serial killers, childhood friends, and his grandmother, all atop beautifully winding guitar lines and the occasional ethereal keyboard. Despite all the death and decay, though, it’s the brightest (and funniest) record he’s ever released. At this point Kozelek’s Raymond Carver-esque tales of the forgotten, marginalized, and doomed among us are the most poignant out there.