Phil Elverum’s songs of loss gave me a language for that shapeshifter, grief

After my first boyfriend died, Elverum’s Microphones and Mount Eerie helped me make sense of a bleak world

I first encountered the music of Phil Elverum in August 2010, a month after the death of my first boyfriend. That summer I spent hours sitting numbly in the park with my headphones on, listening to Elverum describe a landscape without colour or movement: “no black or white, no change in the light, no night, no golden sun”. That dissonance between internal and external worlds made sense to me as I watched children play and rollerbladers pass by in the sunshine as if everything was normal.

I listened over and over again to his album The Glow Pt 2, released in 2001 under the name the Microphones, trying to make sense of the previous six months. I met Marc in my first year at university: a pretty, hyperactive French boy who shimmered into my life at a club night in Birmingham. I fell in love with his perfect sweep of sandy blond hair, the way he played piano with the exaggerated melodrama of his beloved symphonic metal and video game soundtracks and his habit of wrapping a USB cable around his neck like a protective amulet.

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