The Microphones: The Glow Pt. 2
2001, K Records
The Glow Pt. 2 came out on my birthday in 2001. It was my first introduction to The Microphones and a love for Phil Elvrum that would go on and on, even as he drifted between his original moniker, then Mount Eerie, and then back again. My friend, Jack, had wrapped the CD in newspaper print and a piece of twine that he had found laying around the radio station. When I opened it and saw the wonky elephant that graced the cover, I wasn’t impressed. “Trust me,” he said, “you’ll love it.” And he was right.
As a sucker for lo-fi, The Glow Pt. 2 encompasses everything that is great and bad about the genre – it’s noisy, raw and tattered; and in some spots, ripped up beyond recognizable melody, that your shoulders instinctively crawl up toward your ears and you cringe the cringe that comes with unbearable pleasure. As an English major, I analyzed Elvrum’s lyrics every time I was given a chance to take a part a piece of song or poetry – his use of language and metaphors puts him in the same category as Jeff Mangum and Conor Oberst – line after line is truly astonishing.
I’ll admit that these days I don’t listen to The Glow Pt. 2 as much as I should, or as I did so obsessively those weeks following my birthday. And when I got his next album, Song Islands, the following year, I didn’t listen to it even a tenth as much as I listened to The Glow Pt. 2 – it was also a great album, but just didn’t resonate the way I needed it to in my heart.
As I write this, with Elvrum’s voice streaming through my headphones, my shoulders pulled toward my ears, goosebumps along the nape of my neck, I’m reminded of why I don’t listen to it as often as I once did: it’s too good. It’s almost torturously good – aching, cringing, and screaming into the dark sky kind of good. And when something like that exists, it’s best to keep it on the shelf, admire it from afar and pull it out when you need to remember that music really is meant to take you someplace else.
By: Amanda Chatel
“The Gleam Pt. 2,” from The Glow Pt. 2: