Review by Justin Peterson
RIYL: Bon Iver, My Morning Valentine
Recommended Tracks: Track 1, Track 3, Track 8, Track 9
It’s sometimes hard to exactly pin down what Mount Eerie’s seventh LP is setting out to do. It is all at once beautiful and blatant, arresting yet deeply intimate. It creates a picture in your head of a place that you may dream of going to, but when you get there it isn’t at all what you thought it was, as if something is missing.
Sauna is a journey through Phil Elverum’s state-of-mind, but he somehow remains willfully mysterious with some pedestrian lyrics. In tracks like “Pumpkin,” Elverum softly speaks of things that he might just be doing that day, he’s simply narrating his lonely passage through time.
The album opens with a soft organ, just one of many instruments that come into play as the journey progresses (we also see string instruments as well as guitar). But it’s the organ that allows the listener to judge the mood of a song, as that initially soft organ becomes deeper and much darker on thirteen minute climax “Spring.”
A common theme seen throughout Sauna is one of existence and Elverum’s existential thoughts towards it. Lyrics hinting towards this are littered throughout the LP, such as “I don’t think the world still exists/ Only this room in the snow,” on the title track.
But it’s Elverum’s seeming emptiness that gives Sauna its fleeting beauty, even if at times the darkness seeps into the sweeping organ and strings. Yet even these forays into Elverum’s darker points of psyche prove to be deeply moving moments of truthfulness, and is perhaps where the listener is able to perceive the message of Sauna with the most clarity.