Sound — 10
The Microphones, a loose collective fronted by a lead songwriter and singer Phil Elvrum, have one of the most distinctive sounds in indie rock today. A microphones track is easy to recognize, listen for distorted drums, somewhat off-key singing, and that ubiquitous acoustic guitar sound. It amazes me how much mileage the microphones can get out of playing the acoustic guitar with the same tone on each track. Phil is truly an inventive guitarist, playing many different chord forms and simple yet effective melodies that only sometimes consist of more than four notes. The microphones' music conveys a strange sense of peacefulness for the listener, and there are ample instrumental tracks on this record. I give the music a five for its innovation and its peacefulness.
Lyrics — 6
The lyrics on this record are only present on about half the songs, and only half the time can you hear and understand all the words. Many of the lyrics have to do with nature and humankind's place in it, for example the song "My roots are strong and deep," in which he imagines himself the huge oak tree in the park that casts shade over everybody, its gnarled roots stretching out 10 feet in all directions from the base. Other songs though, like the title track, have some lyrics that are just plain dumb. "I took my shirt off on the lawn. I'm sorry that my shoulders were golden." and so forth. Phil is not really much of a singer, but he gets extra points for the technique he used on the vocals for "The Moon," which sound like they are literally behind the music. All in all, it adds up to a three.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall this is quite an album with a great tranquil vibe throughout, but some of the songs seem too self-indulgent (see any track that runs over five minutes other than "The Moon") and it's difficult to sit through the entire album, it makes better background music for walking through the park, writing record reviews, et cetera. The most impressive songs are "Headless Horseman," "My Roots Are Strong And Deep," "Samurai Sword," and the epic track "The Moon." Overall, this album gets a four.