Low – [Album]

Tuesday, 03 May 2011

Ever have one of those days when you stop, after the lunacy and hectic pace of the day has seemed to calm down for a minute, and look around at the mess your life has created (either personally or professionally, the source of the indignities you've had to live with is irrelevant) around both itself and you? At that moment, everything seems at its most hopeless and you feel compelled to collapse from exhaustion/resignation/misery/self-loathing because it seems like a viable alternative to succumbing to a complete and total stress-induced-breakdown. In moments like that, most people reach for something (a cigarette, a record, an uncut syringe of Redrum heroin) that they know will calm them down. Moments like that need a totally detached distraction.

For moments like that, there is a new alternative to tobacco or hard drugs – it is Low's new album (ironically) entitled C'mon. On it, singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawk stands before a sprawling but serene instrumental backdrop and drops a series of surprisingly fatalist lyric sheets that contrast the mid-tempo music perfectly – but seek to jar listeners with their imagery and sentiments as they seethe with gentle, methodical melody.

This sort of emotional/instrumental foil just rolls out perfectly structured, fully formed and easy and warm as velvet at the exact same rate that “Try To Sleep” rolls through its run-time. Even then, Low is laying their vibes on in foot-thick layers as Sparhawk's guitars growl perfectly contained atop an undercurrent of Steve Garrington's bass and Mimi Parker's drums. In this case, some dainty descriptor like 'noir' doesn't do the song justice. There is anger and frustration and hurt implied here which is all genuine rather than being simply implied, with a textural, static overhang suspended above it that is delicate and beautiful, but implies no more salvation for listeners than a starry sky – it feels as real and impartial as any natural environment. This sort of terror twilight continues through songs like “Done” (where Sparhawk warns, “If you see my love, tell her I'm done”), “Witches” (where “You played the part of the one who was taken down by dusk”), “Majesty/Magic” (where the singer wonders “How they could leave us so soon” so elegiacally, listeners will be able to feel it from balls to bones) which each see the band's members crest over and sink beneath the dark but un-troubled arrangements of each track but, rather than ever allowing the band to drown, they're always buoyed back to the surface to play again and stake their claim on the hearts of listeners. All is not down either; tracks like “Nightingale” are tentatively uplifting in their timbres, the band just takes a remarkable and not often seen amount of care to ensure no movement is quick so as not to capsize the dominant, immediate setting.

When the curtain finally does fall at the end of the so-comparatively-muscular-it-feels-rapturous “Something's Turning Over,” it will be impossible for listeners not to wonder excitedly what Low's next offering will bring; if it will tread back to the true depths of the human spirit only to jump forth again as a dramatic movement as it does here, or if the end of C'mon marks a transition that will find Low staying on sunnier shores for their next effort. Regardless, the request made by this album's title is easy to comply with – those with the right mind will gladly follow Low through this exercise to wherever the band leads next.



Low – “Try To Sleep” – C'mon


C'mon is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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