Spiritually and in retrospect, Phil Elvrum has written a kind of autobiography through Microphones in 2020. A grandiose work, particularly intense, introspective and intimate, which remains forever one of the most beautiful demonstrations of life.
Beyond all the nostalgia we feel musically and through all the landscapes of memories he tries to make us live, Phil Elvrum has an extraordinary life and career path. From his youth under the nickname of The Microphones and later his "adult" period with Mount Eerie, Elvrum has built his career and his fabulous charts around a unique folk/lo-fi sound and a particularly touching writing style which has allowed the author to offer a handful of unforgettable albums. Although every human being has his or her own adventures, joys and sorrows, making life experience like something beyond us all, it must be said that it was not so tender with Elvrum. Although it is cruel to see someone suffer so much, so much that we wouldn't even want it to happen to our worst enemy, it must be said that paradoxically, the sorrows of life are surely the most touching things that exist on earth. The very essence of Elvrum's music, based on introspection and the human aspect, is mainly fuelled by both the obstacles and the wonderful things that have happened to him in life, it must be said that ironically, it is all his evils and all his beautiful memories that have made his music and his writing so attractive and so poignant.
Spread over a single 44-minute song, Elvrum opts for a "progressive" approach and aesthetic to best capture the listener's attention. The goal is of course to gradually bring him into his universe, even for the less reactive and less receptive. Without realizing it, you are there, immersed in Elvrum's head, nerves and heart. Finally, when you think about it for a few seconds, you know deep down inside when you hear that he is coming back, that he is going to deliver a work of this kind. No one really doubted the quality that was offered to us, neither musically nor lyrically. Yet even in imagining the ideal, Elvrum's strength again lies in the fact that even anticipating all this, the experience is even more beautiful and as powerful as when you really live it. Musically, although we are far from an innovative and experimental work in the sense that we are rather in a comfort zone, we have to admit that the instrumentation and the production remain incredibly delicious. In reality, the lack of innovation is not a problem, on the contrary the fact that the work is meticulously built and perfectly mastered comforts and acts as a supporting wall to its writing.
Even if there has always been and still is here again some shadows and contradictions in Elvrum's lyrics, I insist but the writing of Microphones in 2020 is simply brilliant. No doubt Elvrum was already in the pantheon of the best singwriters still in business, but his inspiration and imagination seems to be inexhaustible. Once again, life has a hand in it. Throughout this new album, Elvrum seems to refuse to talk about his past as if he were looking through his rear-view mirror, yet unconsciously, there is clearly some kind of biographical analysis. Obviously, if we compare this work with his previous ones under the name The Microphones, it's obvious that the approach and the lyrics are totally different, because Elvrum is no longer 20 years old. For me it's one of the most important and attractive elements of this new album, because it's as if there's a one-way discussion between the Elvrum of the present and the Elvrum of the past. Overall, Microphones in 2020 is not his best album, but it's clearly close to it. Elvrum took the time to draw a work full of landscapes and images, which was able to get to the point.