Dreary-rock master Mark Kozelek gets a little help from friends on the group’s third album. Ben Gibbard, Will Oldham, and Eric Pollard lend backing vocals to the thoroughly down-tempo affair, which just about fills up just about every bit of the full 74-minute CD. Seven-, nine-, and ten-minute tracks pepper April, making it an especially dense effort.
Kozelek’s voice, like on all albums he’s on, dominates April, with light, drifting ballads providing the contrasting backdrop to his solemn tone. The beginner “Lost Verses” calmly swells around a rolling acoustic strum while Kozelek mumbles his way between touching vocal upshoots. That goes on for almost ten minutes as one of the more involved album openers around. “The Light” features a similarly cooled electric guitar for eight minutes while the group coasts for over seven minutes on the acoustic plucking maze of “Heron Blue”.
The effectiveness of Kozelek’s strain is what makes this yet another successful album. On “Lucky Man”, he employs a high moan while he softly whisper-groans on “Unlit Highway” and “Harper Road”. The alt-minimalism is as fashionable as ever as he further bridges the gap between depression and isolation with merely the tone of his voice.
April is just another chapter in Kozelek’s unique career, as his melancholy seems to last forever and never get old. Even the backing vocals on the album never come close to diverting attention away from his vocals, as each really long song floats by with the smoothest of ease.