Home > News & Reviews > Mount Eerie

Mount Eerie - Now Only (Album Review)

Wednesday, 21 March 2018 Written by Olivia Tambini

Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum is a musician unlike almost any other. His music, lacking in any perceptible pop structure, plays like a stream of consciousness; raw, without embellishment, and completely devastating. Following the death of his wife, Geneviève, Elverum explored his grief through his work, resulting in the release of a critically acclaimed album, ‘A Crow Looked At Me’.

Precisely one year later comes its follow up, ‘Now Only’, which finds Elverum investigating his evolving relationship with his late wife, the passing of time, and the cyclical nature of life and death. Whereas ‘A Crow Looked At Me’ documented fresh pain, the new album allows little glimmers of hope to pierce through the shroud of grief.

Opening track Tintin in Tibet begins with the mantra "I sing to you" as Elverum discusses talking to his wife even though he knows she "doesn’t exist". It’s a theme that continues throughout the album, which feels as though it is addressed to Geneviève.

Elverum recounts memories from their courtship, allowing us to learn more about their relationship before she became ill. We also learn about Elverum’s early life and, on Distortion, he describes the first time he saw a dead body, a pregnancy scare in his early 20s, and conversations with his mother.

Musically, ‘Now Only’ is very similar to ‘A Crow Looked At Me’, with continually flowing lyrics and meandering song structures. But Elverum has built upon the previously sparse instrumentation with sweeping synth drones, cymbal crashes, and pounding percussion.

And, while the new album is just as heartbreaking as its predecessor, there are also moments of genuine humour. The title track pairs upbeat pop guitar chords with lyrics like "people get cancer and die" and recounts playing his "songs about death" to a crowd next to Skrillex’s tour bus.

Elverum also seems to discover value in creativity once more. Last time out he sang "death is not for making art about", but on Two Paintings by Nikolai Astrup we see him finding solace or meaning in the paintings Geneviève put up around their home.

Yet, these lighter moments are short lived as the realities of death hit hard, particularly on Earth. In what may be the most devastating moment on the album, Elverum recounts rolling around in the grass with their daughter and seeing fragments of bone from where he scattered Genevieve’s ashes in the garden.

The final track, Crow Pt II, serves as a kind of recapitulation, in which dissonant guitar chords rush in like waves and fall about Elverum’s monotone vocal. He describes seeing Geneviève in everything he does and, with the repetitive form of the song, it’s easy to fall into a sense of comfort. Then, though, it ends abruptly and without warning.

This album, like ‘A Crow Looked At Me’, is not easy listening, but although the grief is evidently still excruciating, ‘Now Only’ suggests that Elverum is beginning to make sense of his pain. He can see the value in art again. He feels hopeful when he looks at his daughter. He still sobs when he eats breakfast sometimes. Death is final, and sudden, and frightening, but this family’s story isn’t over. Time, ultimately, goes on.





Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!


More Reviews from Olivia Tambini



You May Also Like:

Never Bored: Ugly-Pop Band Skating Polly Discuss Life On Tour
Mon 10 Sep 2018
Wanderlust is a word usually associated with gap years and middle aged people who want a fancy way of saying they’re bored with the life they’ve made for themselves.
Grin Through The Dark Stuff: The Dirty Nil Return With The Mighty 'Master Volume'
Tue 11 Sep 2018
Towards the end of Pain of Infinity, one of the singles from the Dirty Nil’s new record ‘Master Volume’, Luke Bentham drawls “and another thing, baby...” before ripping a guitar solo. He gets back to the microphone in time to yell: “I never loved you and I hate your friends.” The frontman is inconsiderately handsome, and has been known to play a Gibson Les Paul mid-knee slide while chewing bubblegum and wearing a star-spangled denim cowboy shirt.
Light, Love and Lineage: Amy Helm Keeps Her Family's Fire Burning
Thu 27 Sep 2018
Photo: Ebru Yildiz To some people music is much more than just a form of entertainment or artistic expression. On her latest solo album ‘This Too Shall Light’ Amy Helm, daughter of the Band’s legendary singing drummer Levon Helm and singer-songwriter Libby Titus, has not only crafted a beautiful collection of gospel-infused Americana gems, but also a record with a rich sense of heritage dripping from every note.
New Faces, New Sound: How Federal Charm Moved Forwards on 'Passenger'
Tue 18 Sep 2018
Imagine being in a rock ‘n’ roll band with two albums under your belt and a fistful of big-name support slots in the bank. Imagine you spent the best part of a decade building a fanbase. Then, just as you’re preparing to make that all important third album, imagine waving goodbye to half the group. Do you wallow in self-pity? Wave the white flag and call it quits? Or recruit two new members and bounce back with your strongest album to date.
Making A Big Noise Is Fun: Inside The Weird And Wonderful World Of HMS Morris
Wed 26 Sep 2018
Let’s start with some advice from Heledd Watkins and Sam Roberts, who are the backbone of the Welsh-speaking, genre-melding psych-pop band HMS Morris: “Expect the unexpected.”
Stop Standing Still: The Goon Sax Evolve On The Rich, Ambitious 'We're Not Talking'
Mon 17 Sep 2018
Photo: Ben O'Connor Louis Forster keeps forgetting something. He’s at his band’s rehearsal room picking up some gear. They’re going on tour; landing in London and moving on to an opening night in Glasgow after the long trip over from Brisbane. They’re pretty much good to go.
Poetry Versus Precision: Estrons Talk 'You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough'
Fri 05 Oct 2018
Photo: Imogen Forte When Estrons vocalist Tali Källström played a test pressing of the band’s debut album to a friend, their response was easy to remember. “It sounds like you’ve dipped in and had sex with every genre,” they said. Well, they’re not wrong.
Attan - End Of (Album Review)
Wed 19 Sep 2018
Attan released their debut EP, ‘From Nothing’, three years ago. There wasn’t a whole lot of fanfare, just positive rumblings and a few ‘ones to watch’ recommendations. Anyone who saw the band during that period got it, though. The Norwegians’ sludge-tinged, blackened hardcore was radicalised in the live arena as vocalist Remi Semshaug Langseth went walkabout during the cathartic seven minute epic Edward. He screamed in faces, slapped his heart onto his sleeve and then carved it open for all to see.
 
< Prev   Next >