The creative process for Mount Eerie's Now Only took place just after the release of the lavishly praised A Crow Looked At Me (winner of our own Album of the Year 2017, of course). Here, Phil Elverum continues his candidly lyrical and artistic exploration of the loss of his wife Geneviève. The record follows his powerful, affecting memories and the minutiae of their lives together.
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A year after releasing the quiet, sparse and distraught ‘A Crow Looked At Me’, Phil Elverum offers another record of listless and plain-spoken songs grieving for his wife Geneviève Castrée. Hearing these songs live last year, it was obvious they were an expansion of the same repertoire, speaking and moving with similar breathlessness and cadence. While Elverum has spoken of being disillusioned with his older music in the wake of grief, and his need to write it plain -- “when real death enters the house, all poetry is dumb” -- this record is a melodic and often beautiful companion piece that considers relating to the world in the face of personal devastation.
The gorgeously finger-picked “Distortion” has Elverum’s arrangement skills adorning it: doom metal chords scratch the surface and piano notes play in odd moments of the eleven minutes, like spare parts for something broken. He layers his voice into knotty harmonies, offering something like a tune to an endless relay of unfiltered stories about existentialism both childish and adult. The equally long “Two Paintings By Nikolai Astrup” once again sees Elverum match his fire-flickering guitar and subtly climactic textures with life stories that weave in and out of coherency. On “Earth” he opens on a scratchy grunge rock verse before speaking with the same simplicity on the confusing dualities of grief -- “Everybody that used to know us seems concerned / but if they knew when you enter my mind I’m full of your love”.
It might be the title track itself, though, that stands most singular on this record: a track that sees Elverum reckon with the concept of other people grieving, as well as a long observance on the absurdity of his life (including being jarred by hanging out with Skrillex and Father John Misty on tour), the song sees him think about living and dying over a jaunty, sing-along chorus of lovely strums, licks and rollicking piano chords. These records have put us close to Elverum’s extremely personal relationship with his grief, but this song offers a moment that's something like communication. Once again, all there is to do is to send Elverum as much love as you can, but 'Now Only' is also a staggering record.
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- Now Only by Mount Eerie
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