This review is from: Red House Painters 1 (Audio CD)Dearly loved by a devoted following of fans for their beautiful, soulful, semi-acoustic brand of melancholic Americana, Mark Kozelek's Red House Painters were frustratingly just short of delivering that one killer album, but this sprawling 75-minute double (often known as the `Rollercoaster Album' to distinguish it from the band's second self-titled release) may well be their best effort.
Kozelek's rich voice has never sounded better here and the musicianship is excellent throughout. The lyrics, often intensely personal on tracks like `Katy Song' and `Grace Cathedral Park', describe the acute pain of failed relationships but also evoke a sepia-tinged nostalgia on songs such as the gorgeously wistful `Rollercoaster'.
All of those songs just mentioned are amongst the finest in RHP's canon, but there are many more beauties here, like the lovely `Things Mean a Lot' and the acoustic `Take Me Out'.
The highly personal nature of Kozelek's songwriting probably makes a surfeit of self-indulgence inevitable, but do we really need two versions of `Mistress' (fine song though it is)? Also, I defy any RHP fan not to admit that `Funhouse' is painfully turgid.
Minor criticisms though, in the context of the record overall, which I loved as a callow youth upon its release and still really enjoy now.