“I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love” by Sun Kil Moon

Sun Kil Moon were originally called the Red House Painters, till at one point they changed their name on a whim, despite the fact that, at the time, the “new band” had exactly the same lineup and musical style. Now the “band” is basically just the frontman, Mark Kozelek, recording on his own in a Folk singer-songwriter model while still using the name of his old band. What unites all of these incarnations is an extremely conscientious devotion to the Indie Rock subgenre dubbed “Sadcore” or “Slowcore”. As worrying as those names might sound, bands like Cat Power and Low prove it’s possible to do these genres well. The real problem here is that it’s just Kozelek and his acoustic guitar on display here: that kind of minimal presentation only works when the material is strong enough to support it, and songs like this don’t quite cut it. The song is just what the title indicates…a man musing on the increasing age and ultimately impending death of his beloved mother. He seems to think the sadder he makes himself sound, the more moved the audience will be, which shows a fundamental misunderstanding. He certainly conveys his own sadness clearly, but because he only talks about his mother in reference to his own feelings and issues and remains totally wrapped up in how the situation affects him, the audience is never really made to care all that much. When you combine that with the technical songwriting…the song is sloppily rhymed, barely scans, and doesn’t have much of a melody to speak of…the result is sad enough to make for an unpleasant listen, but not sympathetic enough to have any emotional impact. Acoustic Folk music has gotten a bad rap in recent years for supposedly being too mellow and vacuous, but in reality, it’s when it gets this self-indulgent and whiny that it really becomes insufferable.

Verdict: I hate to pick apart a song that was, if nothing else, sincere, but apart from the self-pity there’s really not much here.

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