Hey everyone, Anthony Fantano here, ‘The Internet’s Busiest Music Nerd’ and it’s time for a review of the new Mount Eerie album, ‘Now Only’. This is singer/songwriter Phil Elverum’s latest musical transmission under the ‘Mount Eerie’ name, and Phil, if you’re unfamiliar with him, in my opinion, is one of indie-folk’s and low-fi music’s most creative musicians, creative producers, not only when you take into account the fantastic albums he came out with under the ‘Mount Eerie’ name but also ‘The Microphones’, ‘The Globe Part 2’, ‘Lost Wisdom’, ‘No Flashlight’, ‘It Was Hot, We Stayed in Water’ and also last year’s incredibly devastating ‘A Crow Looked at Me’, in my opinion, one of the best records of last year while also being one of the most emotionally traumatising as the album is a deep dive into the excruciating details of Phil’s life around the time his wife passed away of cancer. Singing about her sickness, her passing, therapy, single fatherhood also wrestling with the feelings of grief, shock, denial, etc. This next album now only deals in a lot of the same themes, feelings, experiences, but is decidedly different stylistically the instrumentation on this album isn’t quite as stark, isn’t quite as low-key. The writing and structuring of these tracks is not quite as direct or pointed either, there are quite a few long and very winding songs on this record with some kind of meandering narratives, it’s almost like Phil is writing a letter or a postcard just off of the top of his head to a loved one or, I guess, generally his audience. Of everything that’s been happening to him, even down to the minor details since we last heard from him and honestly, it’s all got a little bit, just a little bit of a Mark Kozelek, Sun Kil moon vibe to it. It’s an interesting influence to hear pop up in Phil’s music, as well as other records too, it seems like this long, rambly, uh, very off-the-cuff songwriting style that Mark has popularized this decade has been adopted by quite a few artists that I like. This album is 44 minutes features a handful of tracks that range from five to about 10 minutes. Some of the moments on this record are really emotionally compelling and heart-wrenching. Very straightforward in their storytelling like the track Tintin in Tibet which is a minor reference within the story itself contained in the song where Phil is essentially singing about being younger, having met his wife, living in a moment in their relationship where they were just deeply in love, finding out about one another and then juxtaposing that against moments in their relationship when she was sick and their time together was coming to a close. It’s a really hard-hitting moment on the album, it’s a strong sentiment to start the record off with and it’s painfully clear that Phil is still kind of suffering through the agony of his feelings around this and understandably so. But it seems, at least to me, that when Phil switches over to tracks like ‘Distortion’ that are a little bit longer in their run-time and a little bit more rambly, a little bit more dishevelled he is no longer playing to his strengths as a songwriter or maybe this is just something that he needs to feel out a little bit more in order to make a more compelling track because while a lot of the same themes of emotional pain and loneliness and even a bit of a narrative moment where Phil is talking about being younger and having a pregnancy scare. Even though this is all very familiar given what he’s been singing about lately, it’s all kind of inconclusive and doesn’t add up to too much. It’s an OK listen at the end of the day but I feel roughly the same way about the ‘Two Paintings by Nikolai Astrup’, track the second longest song on the album later in the tracklist. I love and am enchanted by Phil’s music a majority of the time, but do I find him to be so gripping a storyteller, to have so strong a delivery that he can just throw any minor detail out there and it just kind of keeps me on the edge of my seat in a song? Not necessarily, although I understand why at this point in his life he would kind of be obsessing over every minor detail as it does add to some incredibly cutting moments on this album especially on the closer where he is singing about his daughter wanting to hear Mommie’s record, a record with her mother on it as she was a musician as well, a recording artist and this leads Phil to a point where they’re listening to the album and he is sobbing in the middle of eating breakfast, something that personally I can’t even begin to imagine dealing with. The title track on this record is one of the more succinct ones in the track listing it has a purposefully sweet and very melodic chorus that kind of talks about death and dying in a somewhat flippant manner about people getting cancer and dying getting hit by trucks and dying, but I feel like this is all a very admirable attempt by Phil to make a statement on just generally the callousness that a lot of people have toward death or just being so absorbed in their own issues that it’s not really something they think about when other people may be going through it. As we see Phil filing through a hospital setting, as we see him filing through a setting where he’s at a music festival and he has to play these, what he describes as ‘death songs’ for ‘kids on drugs’. And then there is the maybe most haunting and morbid track on the entire record, ‘Earth’, which not only has a pretty interesting ‘Wolves in the Throne Room’ reference but is also a song where Phil is literally dealing with the transformation of his significant other from a living breathing human being to cremated ashes, remains. The instrumental on this track might not seem like much more than just some droney keys and guitars, occasionally a sort of wild, loud, distorted indie rock passage but it serves as a pretty great backdrop for his attempt to kind of process this, because it’s really just kind of intense with how directly he stares into this abyss of death in his art, uh, especially as of late to the point where I find his music to be enjoyable and bold and brave and unique but also concerning too, which I guess that that’s been my attitude since the last album as well, I mean I love Phil’s music, I think he’s a great artist but still I hope he’s doing better, I hope he’s healing, I hope he’s okay. To me this album is a bunch of very good ‘Crow’ afterthoughts, sort of like an epilogue of sorts in a way. I liked it quite a bit, as a fan I like that he took some compositional risks on this record too, but it’s maybe not an album I would recommend to a newcomer as it correlates directly with the last record which one probably should listen to first and isn’t necessarily one of his most accessible. I’m feeling a decent 7 on this one transition, have you given this album a listen? Did you love it? Did you hate it? What would you rate it? You’re the best, you’re the best. What should I review next? Hit the like if you like, please subscribe and please don’t die, just leave a, uhhh, y’know thoughtful comment in the comments if you’re feeling full of thoughts, okay. Make sure to hit the subscription button and the bell because YouTube isn’t going to sort of put my videos in your subscription box, probably, and also, there’s a video next to my head you should check out too. Anthony Fantano, forever.