[Sub Pop] 2011
Low make hypnotic, guitar driven melodic music that creeps around the side of your consciousness and relaxes and subtly inspires. The tempos are slow, the melodies are clear and narrowly defined. C’mon has a strange kind of minimalist catchiness to it – these aren’t the kind of ear-worm candy pop songs that will take residence in the back of your head, but as you acclimatize to the record, you connect to it, and with multiple listens, I’ve assumed a comfortable familiarity with the album. It’s one of those 3AM kind of recordsthat fits perfectly into the slowed down metabolism, one that somehow appropriates the glacial motion of the universe, of the stars turning in the sky. It reminds me of more synth driven counterparts, like Beach House, or the organic slow burn of The Dirty Three.
C’mon also reminds me that the world is going forward, that time is elusive, and unstoppable. It’s a perfect album to listen to in quieter moments, to help you concentrate, to gauge your progress. The vocal harmonies of Alan Sparhawk(guitar) and Mimi Parker(drums) are the centrepiece of the record, carefully crafted and, like most of the record, impressive in their minimalism. The sound is big, spacious and has plenty of time between notes. Robert Plant included two Low songs on his 2010 Band of Joy album – as he said of their music, “There’s room for everything”. The band also features plenty of musical guests, in a range of Americana, folk tinged appearances, including banjo, lap steel, organ and violin.
Lyrically, the album is, like it’s instrumentation, a little churlish, obtuse and sparse. On Witches, Sparhawk asserts the virtues of “submitting to embarrassing capture”, telling tales of the witches that lived in his room as a kid. Nothing But Heart contains the simple meditation “I am nothing but heart” repeated over and over until the voice itself becomes instrumental. There’s plenty to think about, although I’m not sure that you’re likely to resolve precisely what the significance of the songs themselves mean. And in a way, I guess that’s part of who this band are – something of an elusive mystery. They tend to mock the trends. In a live setting, the band has a history of performing at low volumes, or playing with their backs to the audience- presumably in an effort to get people to listen – or perhaps to change the way that people listen. (Of course, it could just be a passive-agressive prima donna thing.)
Whatever the reason, this album is not something that should be ignored – it’s more direct, more cohesive, more refreshing, and deserves to be played a little bit louder.
Musichord Rating: 7.5/10