Review: Mount Eerie w/ Julie Doiron – Lost Wisdom pt. 2
National Music Reviews
Mount Eerie w/ Julie Doiron
Lost Wisdom pt. 2
P.W. Elverum & Sun
Mount Eerie = Thanksgiving + Sun Kil Moon + German Error Message + Seasonal Affective Disorder
It feels like quite a long time has passed since 2017 when Phil Elverum released the album A Crow Looked At Me—an emotional atom-bomb of an album so crushing that most listeners had a hard time even calling it music. Time moves more quickly now than it ever has. Two years and another heart-wrenching album later, Phil Elverum has released yet another album. Under his famed moniker, and bringing along an old collaborator, Julie Doiron, this new album looks at the recent past with undying appreciation and simplistic, beautiful songs.
Whereas A Crow Looked at Me and Now Only were unflinchingly direct in their lyrical content, Lost Wisdom pt. 2 retains a bit more of the poetry that can be found in Elverum’s earlier work such as Dawn or the initial Lost Wisdom. With both the continuing nature of the album title and the reappearance of Doiron’s soft vocals, there is a lot here that feels like an old Mount Eerie album. There is still an extremely sad aura over this album—contextually, it will be difficult to ever listen to a Mount Eerie album again without attributing additional weight to the melancholic lines instead of simply taking them as dark, introspective poetry. That being said, Lost Wisdom pt. 2 might stand apart from many other recordings in Elverum’s career because it so completely and masterfully intertwines the devastation of his last two albums with the sparse songwriting genius that so many became so attached to. This is the early-era Mount Eerie album that only a post-Crow Mount Eerie could make.
While Now Only featured a little more air—distance between Elverum and his wife’s passing—it still felt like something that was created at the epicenter of a disaster. Here, the long, Kozelek-inflected tracks have mostly been traded in for more concise, quieter means of expression. Musically, Lost Wisdom pt. 2 is what you would expect from a Mount Eerie album, especially if you focus more deeply on the softer side of Elverum’s vast catalog. “Widows” is the only track that ventures into aggressively loud territory, and “Belief” and “Love Without Possession” also feature some electric guitars. The primary sonics on Lost Wisdom pt. 2 are the vocals from Elverum and Doiron, acoustic guitars and maybe some light drumming or piano chords.
Lost Wisdom pt. 2 doesn’t quite grab listeners with the same intensity as Elverum’s past two records did, but those are particularly special cases that might be better examined as “Phil Elverum” projects. This feels like the first real Mount Eerie album since 2014’s Sauna, and interestingly enough, the themes and music of Lost Wisdom pt. 2 both signal toward and reflect on the incredibly odd circumstance of reacclimating oneself within some sense of normalcy.
The fact that this is more of an actual “music” album than either Crow or Now Only highlights the all-at-once kind and heartbreaking reality that time helps recenter things. What makes this album so successful is Elverum’s ability to convey all of the contradictory emotions of sadness and hope as time goes on. There is no going back to who we were before significant traumas take place. But somehow, cycles of comfort, relief, happiness and love reemerge even from the darkest depths. –Evan Welsh