Song Islands Vol. 2
PW Elverum & Son
A new album from the enigmatic Phil Elverum is always a welcome thing, especially since severing himself from outside labels and the marketplace has given him the freedom to become more expansive in his output. Song Islands is not an album in the traditional sense of being a cohesive thematic collection of songs, but rather of rare non-album tracks, a sprawling series of transmissions from deepest Anacortes.
The lyrics are much more direct and strident than pretty much any previous album, wayyyyy more Minor Threat than Microphones, as Elverum takes direct aim at much of 21st century socially networked other life, though still delivered in his boyish, choral swoon of a voice — as pure as the Vienna Boys Choir. Departing from the ghostly hymns of the Lost Wisdom duets with Julie Doiron or the Black Metal homage of Wind’s Poem, the seventeen tracks herein are an eclectic mix of styles and genres, veering back and forth, and all the better for it. Some of the highlights include “Where,” a singsong checklist of pre-concert preparation masquerading as a beautiful lament; “Instrumental,” which brings to mind the primordial Burzum-esque majesty of Wind’s Poem; “Don’t Smoke,” a straight-up, strident, ultra-rocking anti-smoking screed; “Voice in Headphones,” a drastic rearrangement of the Lost Wisdom track, cut into a voices-only choral number; “Get Off the Internet” which swipes the melodies of “We Are the World” for a naked plea to maybe take a walk outside instead of submerging yerself in Facebook; and “You Turn Me On,” an overloaded grungy cover of the Beat Happening gem.
Elverum may be increasingly taking himself off the promotional grid, which is what he wants, but damn, this is music that engages and beguiles.
PW Elverum & Sun: www.pwelverumandsun.com