Between spins of The Glow Pt. 2 I accidentally flicked a switch on my headphones that changed them to mono, which had an interesting effect. On the opening track “I Want The Wind To Blow”, on a stereo setting, the rhythmic chords in the background alternate between channels, lightly beating you from both sides. On mono the music sounds less like being surrounded and more like having a chat with someone in a vast hall. There’s more space around the music, because it isn’t everywhere in your head at once. It isn’t better, but it’s different. Less cavernous, which I think is the opposite of how this album should be.
The Glow Pt. 2 was released on K Records, and despite being a pretty cool label I think this is the only one of their releases I’ve ever listened to. Oh wait, Modest Mouse put stuff out on K right? So Modest Mouse and The Microphones, two only vaguely similar bands. K Records was also mentioned in a Los Campesinos song about collating hints and coming to the conclusion that you’re being cheated on. “And when our eyes meet, all that I can read is ‘You’re the b-side’.” Christ, Los Campesinos are just so fucking good. I’m going to listen to them right now.
It took me a while to make it all the way through Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs because it’s interminably long and my attention span isn’t orientated for music that can be definitively classified as ‘indie rock.’ Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life may seem more monotonous and less dynamic (though because it seems like this, the subtle dynamics are actually much more rewarding) but those eighteen tracks were much more palatable to me. The Glow Pt. 2 is two minutes longer than The Suburbs, and two minutes shorter than My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy. What I’m saying is that I like this, but it’s so long. In the time it took for me to listen to this, Christopher Owens, the guy from Girls who was in a cult, joined Cults; the members of DOM ate all of the body hair of Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz while he slept; and Bethany Cosentino cheated on Nathan Williams with Kreayshawn. There is too much shit going on in music to justify albums over an hour long! Unless you are Kanye West.
The Microphones earn their hour though, most definitely. Now that the petulant whinging is out of the way, here is what Phil Elvrum, principal member of The Microphones (now Mount Eerie), gets right: The drums, on the occasion that they appear at the forefront, are tribal and magnificent. Scarcity is no secret but it does seem to be easily forgotten that the less often something happens, the sweeter it is when it does. “I’ll Not Contain You” has tremendous, booming drum beats that occur ever few bars and create a rhythm like that of some great ship. The layered acoustic guitars make it seem like Elvrum has sixteen hands covering every inch of the neck ready to pluck a note as soon as it comes to mind. Lo-fi acoustic is underrated as fuck and Elvrum makes it work. The album really picks up in the third quarter between “I’ll Not Contain You” and the cacophonous “I Want To Be Cold”, a terrifyingly noisy track that stands in antithesis to the rest of the album, repeated later in the album on the penultimate track “Samurai Sword”. It all culminates with nine minutes of near silence where, if you listen closely, you can pick up the whispers of the songs just passed.
The Glow Pt. 2 deserves to be listened to in stereo, and listened to attentively. There are plenty of musical hooks, like the piercing horns on “The Moon” or the aforementioned intervals of booming drums, but divining it completely takes a deliberate effort. The way it’s arranged makes it an album-album, where each song makes the most sense as part of the set, and it’s the rigor of this structure that pushes the listener along at each step of its tempestuous voyage.