Perils from the Sea

Perils from the Sea

The unlikely pairing of The Album Leaf's Jimmy LaValle and Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek yields an absorbing marriage that few could have foreseen. LaValle, for his part, simplifies his synthetic textures until the grooves are nearly static. This frees Kozelek to sing, rap, or mumble lyrics that might not easily fit one of his well-sketched melodies. Together, the songs have a rare conversational style. "What Happened to My Brother" sounds as you might expect, with an ominous keyboard line and Kozelek sounding particularly pained; he seems to be singing to a ghost. Yet "1936" (a heartbreaking tale of the sensitive singer/songwriter as a young punk) and "Gustavo" (a humorous anecdote about an errant Mexican contractor working on Kozelek's home in the country) are done with space-age hip-hop grooves: one fast, one moderate. "You Missed My Heart," said to have been inspired by a dream, reads like a Nick Tosches tale, with its darkness all but complete. LaValle's funereal chords for "Somehow the Wonder of Life Prevails" are so perfectly contoured for Kozelek's autobiographical details that it'd be a shame if this is their only album together.

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