Say what you will about Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek personally, but his style of rambling, subconscious Americana is some of the most alarmingly good music he’s ever created, from 2014’s Benji to the pickup-truck pilgrimages of his latest, Universal Themes. The record opens with my favorite song from the LP, “The Possum”, which was released at the end of last year as a teaser. It’s a weird song that begins with Kozelek seeing a dying possum in his backyard, mangled by a cat. The song shifts gears, littered with real-life friends, including his girlfriend, Caroline, who cries, disturbed at the thought of a dying animal. Kozelek takes us through a day journeying to see the band Godflesh, with a former Red House Painters bandmate. But it’s here where Kozelek drops a lyric about he and his friend enjoying each other’s company and laughing until their “guts were protruding” — a piece of imagery echoing the earlier possum. It’s a love song about what it means to appreciate life, friends, lovers, good times and even mortality. My favorite piece of lyricism is this inspired bit about watching his friend Justin Broadrick of Godflesh tearing it up: “While Justin tuned his guitar; like a church, it got so quiet / Just for a minute, and then they all soared together / Like a car off a cliff, we crashed and burned over and over and again and again / They threw hard, vicious guttural B-flats / Like a tough Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran in the seventh round / Davey Moore June 16, 1983 / Godflesh ran around that night like an early Mark “Gator” Rogowski / Justin lunged at the mic like a hungry Great White / He was on fire, giving it everything he had and killing it that night.” Those verses are just unreal. It’s difficult not getting caught up in the fire and energy of its appreciation. — David D. Robbins Jr.