The curious sophomore effort from Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon -- with both Geoff Stanfield and Anthony Koutsos returning from Ghosts of the Great Highway -- is a tribute album to indie rockers Modest Mouse and is entirely made up of songs from their catalogue. That said, Kozelek treats these tunes as if he wrote them himself. The same blend of acoustic and electric guitars exist here as they did on the band's debut, but Kozelek's voice is mixed way up in an otherwise sparse production. Shimmering acoustic rock and country meld and wind together on "Neverending Math Equation," and "Space Travel Is Boring." The slow, off-waltz time of "Jesus Christ Was an Only Child" is, in a way, the hinge piece of a recording that deals with memory, childhood, and the emerging of a fragmented person built from these experiences. The allegorical tone of the tune suggests affinity, difference, and the small ways in which what we were taught when we were young opens up spaces in us where we can encounter the world. "Four Fingered Fishermen" acknowledges this with its small strolling blend of acoustic guitars and Kozelek's iteration of his witness of those different than himself. The beautiful and moving "Grey Ice Water," done mariachi style with backing vocals from Michi Aceret and Emily Herron, is the full articulation of seeing people and the world as somehow interconnected, no matter how random the encounter with them. Tiny Cities is so aptly titled, a recording of motion, the passing of distances, and the sometimes too-close experience of intersection, connection, and disconnection that happens in both open and claustrophobic environments -- check "Trucker's Atlas" for the rootless awareness of caged-in restlessness no matter how wide the terrain is to run and move. How it comes off is a seemingly original work, which makes it more extraordinary considering that these aren't his songs. This is a gorgeous recording, one that in a very intimate way opens up an entire universe of possibility for understanding, integration, and brokenness. A fitting tribute indeed.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek