After spending a good portion of the '90s writing beautiful songs with Red House Painters, Mark Kozelek has made some interesting career choices, most notably devoting entire albums to AC/DC and Modest Mouse covers. Granted, Kozelek's drastically reworked versions come out sounding like his own songs, but it means that albums of original material have gone from special to momentous occasions. April, his third full-length under the Sun Kil Moon moniker, and the first made up of new songs since 2003, easily bears the weight of expectations, proving once again that he really does transcend any slowcore or singer-songwriter tags that have been tossed his way. Lyrically, memories of growing up in Ohio in "Lucky Man" and the bittersweet love story laid out in "Moorestown" find Kozelek in fine reflective form, and musically, he couldn't sound freer, moving from quiet solo ballads to string-filled dreaminess to full-band rock songs that remain gentle under the distortion. Assistants here include RHP drummer Anthony Koutsos, Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard, and Will Oldham, and the influence of listening to all of that Isaac Brock guitar pops up at the end of "Tonight In Bilbao," which competes with "Moorestown" and "Lost Verses" as the album's best song. It can be counted as one of the finest moments in a career that's littered with them.

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