Mount Eerie – Now Only ALBUM REVIEW

Mount Eerie – Now Only ALBUM REVIEW

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.

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100 Replies to “Mount Eerie – Now Only ALBUM REVIEW”

  1. Jack White Boarding House Reach plz review I know it's not great but I like it when you review artists I listen to

  2. Should you really have said that he only makes good albums when people die? Come on, man.

    He didn't say that at all.

  3. From a storytelling and lyrical perspective, this is a masterpiece, and far suprasses Kozelek's post-benji albums when it comes to 'real life as poetry'.

    Its a shame you didn't connect with soem of the more detail oriented stories, but to me they were incredibly captivating

  4. Man these fanboys will rage out if you don't review this album a certain way.
    I just had somebody leave a comment on my review saying "you fucking idiot. this isn't entertainment media, its a fucking grief diary. don't give it a numerical rating."
    Not everybody is going to like it the way you did, buddy.
    But Anthony's review here is pretty on par with on how I see this album. It's a good record, but it's nothing to bust a nut over.

  5. I thought that 'Now Only' was as perfect as 'A Crow Looked At Me'. I think you should probably give it more time. I think the rambly and incoherent nature of its vocals, lyrics and music amazingly reflect the messiness of his experiences. Now Only is a messy collage of thoughts and experiences, and this one also branches out to other areas of experience which he's reminded of through his wife's death. Phil sounded cold and subtle on the first album towards the beginning, as it progressed things got messier. This album follows up with the self-rejuvinative nature of his sorrows which drive her even more incoherent and wildly imaginative about his sadness. Just because it's not your regular listenable album doesn't reduce it to a decent 7. Treat it like a piece of art, one which is very difficult to get through but rewards much much more with every listen.

  6. I had a very different take on the title track. I took it as being about the callousness of the universe, and the helplessness we feel when people die. It's something that can never be fully explained and you never really find closure. People die and we're left behind trying to figure out how to live in a world where they don't anymore. Trying to figure out then what our lives mean, if anything.

  7. I think it's also interesting how he think about in what way his wife is still around, and IF she's still around. How he keeps her alive in his memories, and through his pain and songs, and always questioning if that makes her alive or not.

  8. Nah this is currently aoty melon, and reminds me of Microphones sound heavy.
    It’s not as good as A Crow, but it’s damn near fantastic.

  9. Virtue comes out in THREE days I'm gonna need you to review it 2 seconds after it comes out thank you very much

  10. It still bothers me the fact that Fantano only uploads in 720p! Come on, Melon! It's 2018. At least upload in FULL HD.

  11. Saw him perform a couple of these songs live. Thought the rambling style really suited his music and lyrics. From what I saw of him he seemed to cope quite well with performing and being open about the subject at hand.

  12. Could you do Three Dollar Bill Yalls by Limp Bizkit? Yeah I know it‘s nu-metal…so what? I think it‘s got some pretty decent tracks on it 😉

  13. Thank you, anthony! i was really waiting for this. it would be so nice if you did one CLASSICS "clube da esquina" (1972) by the brazilian artists milton nascimento and lô borges.

  14. Beat Drop — "People get cancer and dieeee"
    Felt a bit unwillingfully comical, just sing some sad vibes about dying, worked out before.

  15. why is it that whenever i watch an indie folk review some video about anarcho communism pops up in my recommendations

  16. A Crow Looked At Me was devastating and brilliant, however I genuinely enjoy Now Only more. It feels like he's coming to terms more with his situation and idk something about it seems very healing and I enjoy listening to it more than ACLAM

  17. This is one of those albums that is amazing, but I still avoid. The lyrics are so heartwrenching that I don't want to listen to it. It fucks me up. strong 8

  18. You've been listening to too much hip-hop Anthony…

    Now Only is phil's best record in a long time (which is saying something) and my favorite album of the year so far. Sure it's not a great POP record (the songs don't really rely on strong hooks and catchy verses for the most part), but that's ok in my opinion. Now only is not a pop record.

    It's poetry put to music. Sure the words themselves aren't always compelling like a good story might be, and I doubt they'd read well on a page, but combined with Phil's MASTERFUL (and I don't use that word lightly) arrangements and production, they achieve something most musicians only dream of: a genuine sense of mood. They feel quiet. They feel reflective. They feel like staring out the window after you've lost the energy to cry any longer and seeing the sparkling past in your mind's eye through a worn, tearful lense (too dramatic? Maybe, but maybe not).

    Of course, I respect your opinion and I think you know what you're doing, and the record is not a masterpiece front to back (you're right to single out distortion as one of the weaker, more meandering tracks). Still, I'd strongly urge you to revisit this one. Nikolai Astrov especially is about as good as it gets, and it may well be his best work since the glow part 2 (his use of electric guitar and unique percussion to provide a bed for the wandering words elevates them, imo, and sums to something original, melancholy, wise, and quite frankly–stunning).

    Just my two cents and a break from the usual filthy memes. Keep on meloning, never stop!!

  19. I saw mount eerie last night. And I somewhat agree with Anthony, that this is not as strong as his last album and perhaps remenisent of others work. If I were a mosquito, I would have preferred to have seen his first live performance after a crow looked at me.
    Honestly, I think he is just starting to look back out at the world. maybe his thoughts are incomplete or a bit similar. His music has become very cronalogical and perhaps, like the echoes he sings about, they are losing their intensity. Either way I saw this album as a direct and necessary sequel to his last album, and naturally less hard hitting. He displayed as such in his show, songs from his last album came across as dishonest since they are all so chronological. When he sang Seaweed, he rolled his eyes when he said "you've been dead 11 days". But the new songs were heart breaking and anthony picked up those signals. Its cool that he referenced earth and tintin in Tibet because those were the real strengths of his show. Either way I am excited for more from this artist and not disappointed. He is just starting to look out side of his tragedy. Give him time, he could give amazing wisdom in the future.

  20. I was a fan of him. Then when I saw him getting involve with Hollywood. It's kind he planed for self pity with his wife's death and now his true colours are showing. Hail ! Jeff Mangum.

  21. I think that thematically this album is drastically different from A Crow Looked At Me. I think this album while most of the songs may begin as depressing and dreadful (in an emotional sense)) they end with a more positive vibe more in the direction of recovery and honestly even as someone who hasn't had to deal with anything as remotely devastating, some of the messages from the songs on the album are multi-faceted I'd say as they do kind of contain a more optimistic vibe about moving on and how despite your seemingly infinite loneliness, there are people going through the same thing thus revoking aforementioned loneliness.

  22. Distortion is the best song on the album imo. Phil is a genius, Now only is even better than A crow looked at me and it deserved a 10.

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