After the Painters recorded what would be their final album, Old Ramon, they were dropped off of Island Records and the album was shelved for 4 years. In 2001, it was finally released by Sub Pop, but the band had broken up from the stressful conditions of the Troubled Production. So Mark got two of his old collaborators back together with him with a slew of session musicians. The sound of the Red House Painters had changed so drastically that Mark decided to rename the project to Sun Kil Moon.
Their first album Ghosts of the Great Highway was released in 2003 to great critical acclaim and record sales for any Slowcore act and for any Mark Kozelek-related project. The next album, a Modest Mouse Cover Album called Tiny Cities, was released to mostly positive reviews in 2005. It was in 2008 that the act got a great deal of critical reception when they released April, a sprawling, folk influenced album. Kozelek followed it up in 2010 with Admiral Fall Promises, on which he was the sole musician. Although the album was met with generally positive reviews, some fans were disappointed in the fact that Kozelek eschewed the layered arrangements that were present on his previous work.
The band's fifth album, Among The Leaves, continues the trend of sparse instrumentation set by Admiral Fall Promises, however, it also featured a more stream of consciousness lyrical approach. Many critics and fans found themselves confused as to what to think of the new album.
In January of 2014, the band released their sixth album, titled Benji, which continued the lyrical tread set by its predecessor. The album has been met with some of the most positive reception in Kozelek's career.
- Ghosts of the Great Highway (2003)
- Tiny Cities (Modest Mouse cover album) (2005)
- April (2008)
- Admiral Fell Promises (2010)
- Among the Leaves (2012)
- Benji (2014)
- Universal Themes (2015)
- Jesu/Sun Kil Moon (collaboration with Jesu) (2016)
- Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood (2017)
- 30 Seconds to the Decline of Planet Earth (collaboration with Jesu) (2017)
- This Is My Dinner (2018)
- I Also Want to Die in New Orleans (2019)
Also: Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle of The Album Leaf recorded a collaborative album, Perils from the Sea, in 2013. It was credited to Sun Kil Moon/The Album Leaf for its Japanese release.
Sun Kil Moon displays examples of the following tropes:
- Cover Album: Tiny Cities and the recently released live album, Like Rats.
- Darker and Edgier: April, which is arguably the darkest album Kozelek has produced since the release his previous band's two self titled releases.
- Dream Team: SKM have released two collaborative albums with the metalgaze band Jesu.
- Epic Rocking: Sun Kill Moon keeps up with the tradition set by Kozelek's previous band and has several tunes that exceed the 5 minute mark. However the best example is probably the 14 minute and 33 second epic by the name of "Duk Koo Kim"
- His more recent works from Benji to now usually have at least two or three tracks passing the ten minute mark.
- Genre Shift: As if the change from Red House Painters wasn't enough, the downright bleak, gritty traditional folk sound of April surprised a lot of people.
- I Am the Band: Kozelek when he decides to write out every part of the music.
- Lighter and Softer: Admiral Fell Promises and Among The Leaves are both more relaxed and a tad bit humorous compared to the dark melancholy of April
- Long Title: "The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Young Woman vs. The Exceptionally Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man" among many others.
- New Sound Album: April which dials back the Neil Young-influenced soloing present on Ghosts Of The Great Highway in favor of a darker, grittier, more acoustic sound.
- Spiritual Successor: To Red House Painters.
- Textless Album Cover: April, Admiral Fell Promises, Benji, Universal Themes, Jesu/Sun Kil Moon, Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood, and 30 Seconds to the Decline of Planet Earth.
- Vocal Evolution: From Among The Leaves onward, Kozelek's voice adopted a more strained, deeper, and more monotone quality.