Now Only is the ninth studio album by Mount Eerie, the solo project of American musician Phil Elverum. Like the preceding Mount Eerie album A Crow Looked at Me, Now Only is an extended reflection on the death of Elverum's wife, cartoonist and musician Geneviève Castrée. The album was released on March 16, 2018.[1]

Now Only
Mount Eerie - Now Only.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 16, 2018 (2018-03-16)
RecordedMarch 14 - October 9, 2017
Genre
Length43:33
LabelP.W. Elverum & Sun
ProducerPhil Elverum
Mount Eerie chronology
A Crow Looked at Me
(2017)
Now Only
(2018)
(after)
(2018)

Background and compositionEdit

After releasing A Crow Looked at Me in 2017, Elverum decided that he did not want to play any of his older songs because they seemed "irrelevant" and so continued to write in order to have enough material to go on tour.[2]. Elverum wrote the album on pieces of paper left over from Geneviève, noting their sentimental quality.[3] Moving on from the raw catharsis of the previous album, Elverum approached the writing of Now Only from an introspective perspective, attempting to answer the question of how Geneviève exists in his life post-death. Elverum described this as the "thesis of the record, the question I’m poking at"[4] The album was recorded in Elverum's house in the room in which Geneviève died.[5] Musically the album features more diverse instrumentation with the chorus of the title track featuring a melody described by a press release as "pop"[5]

The theme of contextualising death is present throughout the record particularly in the song "Two Paintings by Nikolai Alstrup".[4] The title of the song "Tintin in Tibet" refers to Tintin in Tibet, the twentieth volume of the comics series The Adventures of Tintin by Belgian cartoonist Hergé.[3] "Two Paintings by Nikolai Alstrup" refers to Norwegian painter Nikolai Astrup and his paintings Midsummer Eve Bonfire (ca. 1915) and Foxgloves (ca. 1920). The final track "Crow, Pt. 2" is a continuation from "Crow", likewise the final track from A Crow Looked at Me. In the song "Earth" Elverum references "I Will Lay My Bones Down Below the Rocks and Roots" by the Cascadian black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room,"[4] who are based out of Olympia, where Elverum lived during his tenure as The Microphones.

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?8.3/10[6]
Metacritic82/100[7]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [8]
The A.V. ClubA−[9]
Exclaim!9/10[10]
The Guardian     [11]
The Independent     [12]
Paste9.0/10[13]
Pitchfork8.5/10[14]
PopMatters7/10[15]
Uncut6/10[16]
ViceA[17]

Now Only received critical acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from music critics, the album has received an average score of 82, indicating "universal acclaim", based on 19 reviews.[7] Sam Sodomsky of Pitchfork called it "part memoir and part magnum opus" and "his most harrowing and physical description of decay".[18] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian said that "Elverum still sounds lost in fathomless pain, struggling to get on with his life while terrified of letting his wife’s memory fade".[19] Nick Hasted of The Independent wrote that " Its lyrics are a tidal, seemingly undifferentiated tumble".[20] Robert Ham of Paste felt a personal connection to Elverum and his loss, relating it to the passing of Patton Oswalt's wife, writing that "Through the art that Elverum and Oswalt have made manifest in the wake of their wives dying, I feel like I know them with an uncomfortable intimacy. As much as I marvel at Annihilation or Now Only, I feel like I want them back on this planet, too." he also wrote that "Now Only is still as wrenching and direct as its predecessor, but concerns itself, at times, with the bitter truth that, sooner rather than later, he’ll be gone, too."[21] Thomas Britt of Popmatters said that the album "will be of interest to Mount Eerie devotees but feels more downbeat and less necessary than its predecessor".[22] Robert Christgau, writing for Vice, said that"you have to admire the no-fuss complexities of his survival album—in particular his realization that it isn't just the artist's body that can't survive, it's the artist's body of work."[23]

Many writers noted that the album sounded more hopeful and had more diverse instrumentation. Heather Phares of AllMusic said that "this album isn't quite as devastatingly sad as its predecessor, and on songs such as "Crow, Pt. 2," there's a lightness when he sings "you're a quiet echo on a loud wind" that wasn't there before" and that "his use of sound is even more evocative"[24] The A.V. Club said that "Where Crow occupied a numb, purgatorial present tense, the new record leaps around like a wandering mind, to vivid anecdotes from the singer-songwriter’s past."[25] Alex Hudson of Exclaim! speaking of the more diverse instrumentation said that "the result is an emotionally nuanced meditation on death that is both heartbreaking and hopeful"[26]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Phil Elverum.

No.TitleLength
1."Tintin in Tibet"4:37
2."Distortion"10:58
3."Now Only"5:54
4."Earth"5:52
5."Two Paintings by Nikolai Astrup"9:22
6."Crow, Pt. 2"6:50
Total length:43:33

PersonnelEdit

  • Phil Elverum – songwriting, vocals, production, mixing, guitars, bass, drums, piano, keyboards

Release historyEdit

Region Label Format Category Reference
United States P. W. Elverum & Sun Double LP, digital download ELV041 [27]
Japan CD EPCD105 [27]

ReferencesEdit

 
Foxgloves by Norwegian painter Nikolai Astrup
 
Midsummer Eve Bonfire by Norwegian painter Nikolai Astrup
  1. ^ Blais-Billie, Braudie (January 17, 2017). "Mount Eerie Announces New Album Now Only, Shares New Song: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  2. ^ Child, Tom (10 April 2017). "Mount Eerie: Stay Sincere". L.A. Record. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b Lyons, Patrick (March 14, 2018). "Phil Elverum On Critical Acclaim, Lil Peep, & Mount Eerie's New Album Now Only". Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Kornhaber, Spencer (March 14, 2017). "The Pointlessness and Promise of Art After Death". Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Now Only". March 16, 2018. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  6. ^ "Now Only by Mount Eerie reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Now Only by Mount Eerie Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  8. ^ Phares, Heather. "Now Only – Mount Eerie". AllMusic. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  9. ^ Dowd, A. A. (March 16, 2018). "Mount Eerie, Hot Snakes, and more albums to know about this week: Mount Eerie, Now Only". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  10. ^ Hudson, Alex (March 9, 2018). "Mount Eerie: Now Only". Exclaim!. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  11. ^ Petridis, Alexis (March 15, 2018). "Mount Eerie: Now Only review – drops of light pierce the fog of grief". The Guardian. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  12. ^ O'Connor, Roisin; Hasted, Nick; Kaplan, Ilana (March 28, 2018). "Album reviews: Kacey Musgraves, The Vaccines, Kate Nash, Frankie Cosmos, Sons of Kemet, Mount Eerie". The Independent. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  13. ^ Ham, Robert (March 13, 2018). "Mount Eerie: Now Only Review". Paste. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  14. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (March 16, 2018). "Mount Eerie: Now Only". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  15. ^ Britt, Thomas (March 15, 2018). "Mount Eerie's Now Only Feels Like More of A Crow Looked at Me". PopMatters. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  16. ^ Thomson, Graeme (June 2018). "Mt Eerie: Now Only". Uncut (253): 33.
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 11, 2018). "Robert Christgau on the Complexity of Mount Eerie's Survival Record". Vice. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  18. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (October 27, 2019). "Mount Eerie: Now Only". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  19. ^ Petridis, Alexis (March 15, 2018). "Mount Eerie: Now Only review – drops of light pierce the fog of grief". The Guardian. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  20. ^ O'Connor, Roisin; Hasted, Nick; Kaplan, Ilana (March 28, 2018). "Album reviews: Kacey Musgraves, The Vaccines, Kate Nash, Frankie Cosmos, Sons of Kemet, Mount Eerie". The Independent. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  21. ^ Ham, Robert (March 13, 2018). "Mount Eerie: Now Only Review". Paste. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  22. ^ "Britt, Thomas (March 15, 2018). "Mount Eerie's Now Only Feels Like More of A Crow Looked at Me". PopMatters. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  23. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 11, 2018). "Robert Christgau on the Complexity of Mount Eerie's Survival Record". Vice. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  24. ^ Phares, Heather. "Now Only – Mount Eerie". AllMusic. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  25. ^ Dowd, A. A. (March 16, 2018). "Mount Eerie, Hot Snakes, and more albums to know about this week: Mount Eerie, Now Only". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  26. ^ Hudson, Alex (March 9, 2018). "Mount Eerie: Now Only". Exclaim!. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  27. ^ a b "Now Only". pwelverumandsun. Retrieved 27 October 2019.

External linksEdit