With roughly 17 LPs already under his belt, Mark Kozelek has been involved with a multitude of different styles; folk rock, slowcore and alternative indie just to name a few. However, the one constant throughout his career has been his ability to capture his personal outlook on life at that time, through a variety of lyricisms relating to experiences and opinions he feels about the world.
This Is My Dinner continues on this path as the Ohio native writes what is a love letter to Scandinavia at times, sprinkled in with a few covers (AC/DC’s ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer,’ The Partridge Family’s ‘Come On Get Happy,’ and John Connolly’s ‘Chapter 87 of He’ backed with music) which are said to demonstrate childhood highpoints that inspired future happenings.
Written during Sun Kil Moon’s November 2017 European tour, the album was also recorded around this time last year at TAPF Studio in Copenhagen and Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco. Tony Scherr, Ben Boye, and Ramon Fermin contributed to the majority of the instrumentation with Kozelek providing the words.
The Nordic backdrop and his fondness for the region comes across straight away in opener ‘This Is Not Possible’, as the album drifts through what is essentially a variety of diary revelations and personal anecdotes that have occurred throughout his recent existence. Although it drags on in some parts throughout its one and a half hours, it manages to keeps to an enduring and cinematic pace on the whole.
Recent single ‘Linda Blair’, for example, finds him telling the listener a rambling tale of a festival in Poland and meeting a sick girl. The narrative then deviates off into the subjects of boxing and The Eagles, before a darker, intense guitar part turns up towards the end. This continues for ‘Copenhagen’ as he looks inwards from a lyrical standpoint and croons about being a middle aged man in the city and requiring Viagra.
The Partridge Family theme cover of ‘Come On Get Happy’, meanwhile, is on the jauntier, more romantic end of the scale, before ‘Soap For Joyful Hands’ neatly sums up Kozelek’s songwriting vibe in one perfect line: “I find poetry in the day to day / in the most boring and empty day / but its the curveballs that hit us out of nowhere that make us say, ‘fuck, thank god I’m alive today’”.
This record can get lacklustre on the first listen, but Kozelek has never been one for instantaneous compositions. Instead, his fans are required to listen to the record a number of times before they’re accustomed to his riotous, romantic, murky, yet thoughtful world, which can sound brilliant.