Mount Eerie review – truth defeats beauty on stark songs of death

St John on Bethnal Green, London
An album of grief is never going to inspire conga dancing, but Phil Elverum’s reflections on his wife’s death are sharply detailed and utterly convincing

Phil Elverum finishes his performance and walks briskly to the back of Sir John Soane’s early 19th-century church, where he mans his own merchandise stall. The crowd largely shuffle past him on their way out. Just a couple acknowledge him. Perhaps they already have all the music he has recorded as Mount Eerie and the Microphones and have no need for more; perhaps they simply have no idea how to engage in conversation with a man who has spent the previous 80 minutes describing in song the effects on him of the death of his wife last year.

Even before Geneviève Castrée Elverum died of pancreatic cancer, Elverum was never likely to break into a version of Agadoo or encourage his audience to partake in a quick conga: his music was always furrowed of brow. But the album he released earlier this year, A Crow Looked at Me, is simply the starkest depiction of grief imaginable, both in its observation of details as sharp and wounding as arrows – “A week after you died, a package came with your name on it,” he sings on Real Death, “and inside was a gift for our daughter you had ordered in secret” – and in its contemplation of the void left in a family and a home when one cornerstone is removed.

Continue reading…

Previous Post
Next Post