Purveyor of dour, caustic songs since 1992, erstwhile Red House Painter Mark Kozelek has yet to garner the midlife kudos of a Will Oldham or a Bill Callahan. Benji, roughly his 13th album, might well be this difficult artist's most direct work, possibly the most devastating this career melancholic has ever penned. Benji has a high body count – uncles, second cousins, murderers, all true stories – while Dogs packs in so much detail of the young Kozelek's sexual fumblings your toes dislocate. The songs all interconnect, Oldham guests and Kozelek declares his love for his borderline-abusive father and Led Zeppelin's slower songs (and his disdain for Nels Cline). Kozelek, it seems, has nothing left to hide, or lose: the effect is utterly riveting.
Sun Kil Moon: Benji – review
Kitty Empire is the Observer's pop critic. She has written for NME and occasionally crops up on Radio 4, 5Live, BBC 6Music, and has appeared on BBC2's The Culture Show and Newsnight Review. @kittyempire666