The Microphones
The Glow Pt. 2


4.5
superb

Review

by TheStefan USER (4 Reviews)
December 7th, 2010 | 47 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Phil Elvrum's 66 minutes of cold, dark winter in the form of a beautiful work of musical art.

The overall feel of an album is usually considered on the first listen. So goes the tired and true formula of listening, appreciating, and re-listening as many times as one sees pleasurable. However, with The Glow pt.2 one will likely be hard pressed to appreciate, or even remotely enjoy this subtle masterpiece at first. Admittedly, I listened to this album after hearing the hype and hated it. I felt it was a mess of noise that was too layered, repetitive, and drawn out. There were no moments that captured me, or even remotely left me excited other than the opening strums of the first track. I put it to rest and let it sit, unused, in my iTunes Library and did not contemplate giving it another listen until I saw that it was the very album that I had cast away so foolishly that managed to make the #10 spot on the Staff’s Top 100 of the Decade list. I couldn’t believe it. I had heard, and focused, but I was not captivated, and I automatically thought of a million different albums more deserving of that Top 10 place. After raking my brain for a good 30 minutes regarding the Staff’s decision, I began to play The Glow pt. 2 yet again. I was not fascinated, taken aback, breathless, or any other adjectives that could describe listening to a Top 10 album. This question did not die down, and I found that the more I listened, the more I enjoyed it.

Now, even though The Glow pt.2 has always been described as a “grower album” and I am really not bringing anything new to the table, a thing to know about this album is that it can only be fully appreciated conditionally. It is completely suited for the winter months. To listen to this album when it is 95 degrees outside will not do it justice at all as many of the tracks atmospherically focus on the harsh drear of winter. To test to this album quietly will also diminish its potential. There are plenty of subtleties that cannot go unnoticed to see the true beauty of The Glow pt.2, and I think it goes without saying that this must be taken in completely. To play something as musically complex and deep as The Glow pt.2 as background music is nothing short of a crime. To truly absorb this album, one must be prepared for 66 minutes of depth, dreariness, and subtle elegance.

Musically, this album is usually a mess. There seems to be no true continuity between the instruments, and Phil Elvrum’s calm, yet pained voice seems to float over the disjointed music that sounds so entrancing. In “I’ll Not Contain You,” Elvrum begins with a loosely jumbled guitar hook, layered over other guitar hooks, layered over even more guitar hooks. Even though this sounds like a recipe for disaster, it manages to pull together quite nicely, and creates a wonderful track. It also fills the listener with anxiousness and a horrible sense of dread, a byproduct of this style of grim art. In other cases, the music is nothing more than a simple drum beat, piano hook, or guitar progression under a thick layer of static. However, under this static usually lies a musical masterpiece. This is most evident in “Samurai Sword” where the haze and static drowns out an otherwise generically great song. This is not Elvrum’s aim though, as the static adds a haunting level of atmosphere that adds to the purpose of the work as a whole. In other instances, there is nothing but traditional instrumentation with folk influences, such as in “The Gleam pt.2” where a pounding drum beat mirrors a bass line, matched with a hurdy-gurdy. Regardless of what approach Elvrum chooses to take on a particular song, every track contains the same kind of chill, and he contains the uniform atmosphere wonderfully on this album.


Most qualms with this album revolve around the few tracks that drag. This could be common because of the album’s early climax within the first 3 tracks. At first, I thought the entire album dragged, but after fully appreciating it I can not say that there is a dull moment. Admittedly, there are some tracks that are not as exciting as others, but they still contain a certain subtle beauty, and without them, the album would lack the sense of fulfillment that it contains. Even the ambience at the end of “My Warm Blood” is a vital part to the completion of the album, even though on paper it is a 5-minute section of droning static and a repetitive tone.

Phil Elvrum’s design behind The Glow pt.2 was flawless. Every chord played seems to fit so well, even though it sounds so disjointed and messy. Every lyric seems to fit extremely well into the album’s grand scheme. Every piece of ambience seems so chilling and haunting, it establishes a sense of fear within the listener. Above all else though, this is definitely an album that is worth the time it demands. To fully grasp The Glow pt.2 is a sense of realization that is hardly matched within music. It is the only album I have ever listened to that I have swayed my opinion completely on, and it is the only album that has the power to frighten, amaze, and humble me all at the same time. Your time is worth it. Trust me.


user ratings (593)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
mike197 (4)
Beautiful, sad, and utterly confusing, the greatness can hardly be overstated. However it takes a lo...

taxidermist (5)
I recalled my fire and my lack of dawn. My one sided warmth. I just wanted more, but I'm small. I'm ...

Eric (5)
The best things in life don't come easy...

Chris Jackson (4.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
TheStefan
December 7th 2010


1003 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

i didn't really say anything that hasn't been said, and this review wasn't really needed but I can't get enough of this album right now, and I wanted to try my hand at reviewing again after my last review was met with criticism. feedback would be nice

Jash
December 7th 2010


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Even the ambience at the end of “My Warm Blood” is a vital part to the completion of the album, even though on paper it is a 5-minute section of droning static and a repetitive tone.

i like how you mentioned that part as being a vital part of the album because the next Micrphones album "Mount Eerie" starts with that same ambience so its like a segue between the albums. good review of an amazing album, pos'd for sure man.


TheStefan
December 7th 2010


1003 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

thanks man, i appreciate it. im glad you understood that about the ambience. i was going to mention it, but then i realized it would just digress into a tangent and i decided to leave it to the reader, because its a review on the glow, not the glow and mt. eerie

SeaAnemone
December 7th 2010


20374 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

good chance that this is the best album of the decade

Digging: Holy Sons - Lost Decade II

TheStefan
December 7th 2010


1003 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

i'd probably give that to Boxer imo, but this is definitely up there

Ponton
Emeritus
December 7th 2010


5793 Comments


yeah it's up there

Jash
December 7th 2010


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thats a bold statement Eric, i think its great that you like this album that much cause it is a masterpiece. imo opinion i couldnt see anything other than Kid A being best of the decade, but this album would be up there for sure too

SeaAnemone
December 7th 2010


20374 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I just don't connect with Kid A nearly as much... and yeah it's between this and Boxer for me. Boxer is more of a favorite, but this is just better is that makes sense, I know it deosn't sound fair

TheStefan
December 7th 2010


1003 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I used to connect with Kid A, but it could never be the best of the decade because i don't connect with it as much anymore. For it to hold that title, it has to be tired and true, a real masterpiece. Yes, I do agree that this is a better album objectively, but I flat out enjoy Boxer more

FyodorDostoevsky
December 7th 2010


412 Comments


Very good review. Loved this the first time I heard it.

SeaAnemone
December 7th 2010


20374 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it depends on the day really... and more days than not I'm pretty sure there's not a better trio of songs ever written than the first 3 here

EVedder27
December 7th 2010


6088 Comments


still haven't heard this

SeaAnemone
December 7th 2010


20374 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

EVedder: this isn't quite up your alley I'd say but I'd definitely give it a try... it's pretty dense, but it's really rewarding, eventually

which brings me to Observer haha... I just looked back at my review of this and I saw your comment:

I enjoy this, but as you said, this gives back whatever you put into it, and I guess I need to give it more time.


which looks funny now that it has a 5 next to it haha


Romulus
December 7th 2010


8437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mike you should really, really give this a go.

I 5'd this for a second once but then got too scared and jumped back to a 4.5. Maybe one day.

TheStefan
December 7th 2010


1003 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

hahhaahah romulus i did the exact same thing

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
December 7th 2010


7026 Comments


title track is crazy good

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

SeaAnemone
December 7th 2010


20374 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

weird that you post this today...

just a few hours ago I was making an avatar... it was this cover with a santa hat on the elephant, but the file was too big : (

Romulus
December 7th 2010


8437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

hahahahahaha that would've been fantastic

FyodorDostoevsky
December 7th 2010


412 Comments


what does an elephant need with a hat now that's just banana nuts

SeaAnemone
December 7th 2010


20374 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I'm gonna try to switch it to different awesome album covers with santa hats on em every few days til xmas... who knows, it could be next!



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