Broken Base: The divide started all the way at the beginning when Down Colorful Hill was released. Many of their early fans, including Kozelek himself, disliked the airy sounding production in comparison to the rawer sounding demo tapes, while others thought it improved the listening experience. There's also the dispute over what songs on the demo should and shouldn't have made the final album.
Songs for a Blue Guitar also split fans due to the fact that it's even lighter than Ocean Beach and because the classic rock influences present on the last album took center stage. One camp commends Kozelek for succeeding in transitioning the sound on such an ambitious record, while the other camp didn't like the new sound. The divide got even larger, after the release of the even lighter Old Ramon.
And that's not even accounting for the Red House Painters vs Sun Kil Moon dichotomy. When Sun Kil Moon was formed, the fandom really split off with fans that prefer the sound of each project as well as a vocal group that love both.
Cult Classic: All of the band's albums could qualify. Even though they were very well liked by critics, they never reached a massive audience.
Even Better Sequel: The band's debut Down Colorful Hill is a very great record and still is considered to be one of the best albums of the slowcore genre. However, its successor, Rollercoaster, which is more lushly produced, features Kozelek writing on a higher level lyrically, and contains some of the band's best songs, is one of the finest records of the '90s period.
Also, the cover for Old Ramon which is the picture of an American flag trapped in a circle with a lens flare. This wouldn't be so bad if it weren't released almost 4 months before 9/11 happened. Haunting then, especially haunting now.
Mis-blamed: Ivo Watts Russell is actually not the one that caused most of the problems with the band. It was actually the fault of 4AD's American branch in general, which was being run by executives from Warner Bros.
Narm: Because Mark is such an emotionally impacted singer, there are times where he can come off as just plain corny. Some examples:
"Have You Forgotten" is about growing up, feeling awkward with oneself, and losing touch with your inner child. However when he mentions things like "Casey Kasem's radio show" and "your friends are fucked up anyway" you can't help but crack up. Narm points also go to the line "That's when friends were nice, To think of them makes you feel nice" the Rhyming with Itself doesn't help.
"Cabezon" with it's hokey, overly-Americana like feel to it.
"Silly Love Songs" is this in spades. For some it can be a gut-wrenching masterpiece; to others the sheer irony of him over-emoting a "Silly Love Song" can really turn it into unintentional comedy.
"Lord Kill The Pain" off their first album also counts. The lyrics are so over the top that it becomes ridiculous. Though it's probable that that was the band's intention.
Narm Charm: Some of the lyrics sound ridiculous when read on paper, but Kozelek is very good at making them work in context to the song most of the time.
Signature Song: To hardcore fans, it's usually either "Medicine Bottle" or "Katy Song". However their most well song is arguably "Have You Forgotten" or their cover of "All Mixed Up".
Vindicated by History: Though always loved by the critics, the band was never known for being commercially successful. It wasn't until the 2000s that their fanbase really started to grow and people started recognizing them as one of the greatest bands of the 1990s.