October 18, 2001

Test Spins: The Microphones

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Phil Evrum, the man behind the Microphones, is a genius of lo-fi pop. His jangly guitars, oddly-phrased vocals, and washes of distorted fuzz are instantly recognizable, making each new Microphones release a comfortable pleasure. The Glow, Pt. 2 is perhaps his strongest album yet, from the lovely opening “I Want Wind to Blow” to the quirky “You’ll be in the Air.”

The title track constantly shifts from punky stomp, to acoustic ballad, to organ-driven lament. The aptly titled “instrumental” is a gorgeous minute and a half, as rapid acoustic picking transitions into a lush section with tumbling bass drums, soulful snapping, and tinkling piano. Lyrically, the theme of fire runs throughout the album, but often the lyrics are secondary to the music. Mostly, Evrum aims for establishing a unified mood, with the vocals often buried in a soup of guitars. This is true on the standout “Map,” on which Evrum’s duet with child-like songstress Mirah is mixed low beneath an organic wall of sound with a playful melody.

Archived article by Ed Howard