Our favorite things this week include Mark Kozalek, "Broad City," and the love between two robots.
[NSFW] Love, Loss and KFC: In the opening track “Carissa” on Sun Kil Moon’s new album, Benji, lead singer Mark Kozelek dwells on the strange death of a distant cousin and claims that his rambling thoughts are just drunk poetry. It’s the perfect admission to open such a brutally honest, melancholy album, which often sounds like the diary entries of a man nearing 50 who has seen too much. The album centers on the theme of loss and salvaging something from it. Kozelek talks about dead friends and relatives, fears of losing his mom and dad, lost youth, lost chances at success. He even meditates on the fates of serial killers and the victims of the Newtown shootings, written in response to one fan’s letter. It’s dark subject matter and certainly not an album that one can bear listening to in any mood, but the light melodies and comic relief offer a satisfying balance. When telling a story about his redneck uncle who died after throwing an aerosol can onto a pile of burning trash, he mentions that they served Kentucky Fried Chicken at the funeral because he would have wanted it that way. Or on the track, “I Love My Dad,” Kozelek mentions returning home from school in tears because he was forced to sit next to an albino kid.
Kozelek’s narration doesn’t come off as self-congratulating or self-loathing, which is far too easy when telling these kind of stories. There’s also little judgment in the tone of his voice. Rather, he is detached and reflective, or as he says it, a kid who couldn’t shake melancholy. I only wish that there was more instrumental space on this record, but Kozelek’s songwriting and tired voice are unshakable. It’s not an album I’ll listen to on repeat, but it’s a story that I’m happy to have heard. (Will Halnon)
Broad Comedy: There's a lot to be said for subtle comedy on television, but nothing beats the feeling of a show that makes you lose it without much effort. Comedy Central's new web-series-turned-sitcom Broad City (Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. CST) is one of those shows that feels impossibly funny, maintaining a Herculean balance of entertaining story lines, relatable characters and raw comic talent. Led by United Citizens Brigade vets Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, Broad City makes a lot out of the little it's about. The duo star and direct the series detailing their twentysomething lives in New York City — a trite premise, but Glazer and Jacobson would be funny in any city and any scenario. The duo could easily pass as a younger Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and the chemistry proves the stars are an excellent match. They represent the much-reviled millennial generation with a wry smile, self-aware and self-critical, but never damning. (Brian Sibille)
Gay Punk: One rule of the Internet is that if it exists, there’s a porn of it. It’s equally likely that there’s a gay version as well, but I was still surprised to find a tumblr page and fan fiction that positioned the robot-helmeted members of Daft Punk as gay and in love. It’s easier to understand when shows or movies create worlds and characters that invite fans to find their way to participate and create the stories and pairings the creators avoided. But Daft Punk erases all semblance of individuality, more so that Kraftwerk, which at least presented faces that viewers could assign personality characteristics to despite the members’ mechanical performance style. There are no traits to attach to Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, nor do they behave while in costume in ways that suggest that the robots are characters that could inspire new adventures. Explanations and theories are welcome. (Alex Rawls)