From Pain Comes Beauty: Sun Kil Moon’s Benji


I first heard this album in a random Spotify playlist. The song “Carissa” hit me. There is just something about that song. It’s dark, depressing, and eerie. This one song essentially sums up the entire album Benji: moody, dark, and beautiful.

Sun Kil Moon is the solo project of Mark Kozelek formerly of Red House Painters. His style of musicianship is very unique. He rambles heavily in his songs. It comes off as much more off the cusp and train of thought. Sun Kil Moon talks about what comes to his mind next. In a song, it is not weird for him to talk about what he is thinking as he writes the song or why he is writing it in the first place.

Benji is a dark, folksy tale of life and death, no wait, just death. Every song features some character dying. In “Carissa”, Moon talks about his second cousin who was taking out the trash when an aerosol can in the trash blew up, killing her. Welcome to Sun Kil Moon! That level of tragedy is commonplace throughout the album. Every song mentions Ohio at least three times.

Not all songs are blatantly about kicking the dust. The songs “I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love” and “I Love my Dad” are just as they sound. They are literally only about how the signer loves his dad and how he cannot live with his dear mom. This is the dichotomy of Benji. Sun Kil Moon covers all his topics with his draggy vocals and stringy guitar. It sounds hypnotic. Listen to it while doing homework.

I can see how someone can be put off by Benji, but they album grew on me like ivy. There was just something, maybe comforting, maybe ambient, about Moon’s lyrics and melodies. It is early in the year, but Benji is so far the best folk album of 2014.


Summary: Sun Kil Moon’s Benji is a get well soon card to his home of Ohio: dark, moody, and beautiful.

Best Tracks: “Carissa” – Best song on the album. “Ben’s My Friend”, “Micheline”