Low – [Album]

Saturday, 27 April 2013

In the early twentieth century, a few very bold writers (including Earnest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald) attempted to illustrate in their writing that there is no hell worse than the drudgery of modern life. It's easy to understand why those writers were preoccupied with such a bleak view; the sense of adventure which came with conquering the American frontier had faded because the North American interior had been settled and well-charted. As soon as that ground was tamed too, the industrial revolution swept in soon after and quashed many of the struggles associated with domestic life too – so what was left? Hemingway and Fitzgerald proposed that the greatest obstacle that the human race had left to overcome was that of itself; as far as people had advanced and domesticated themselves and their surroundings, humans had become the greatest flaw in their own system and society. That lede ended up being the breath of fresh air that the arts needed; all artistic disciplines – literature, motion pictures, television, visual art, journalism, creative writing and theater – have drawn from this source for the last century. After the golden age came modernism and post-modernism, and the wellspring continues to run but, now with the digital revolution having ensured that anyone with an idea and access to a computer recording platform can make a work of pop music “genius,” it has fallen on musicians to make music with a unique personality  and voice to stand out. Low has risen to that challenge on The Invisible Way; the album is inimitable both in its style and execution.

Listeners will find themselves caught in awe from the moment Low opens The Invisible Way with a focus keenly set on a “Plastic Cup.” It seems like a ubiquitous thing, but Low somehow manages to surround the song with intense feelings of longing and isolation which are incredibly vibrant and build the sound up as it plays to dramatic and exciting proportions. The song turns out to be a staggering start; just as an oyster builds a pearl around a grain of sand, Low builds an ornate epic around the basic structures set down by singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawk, bassist Steve Garrington and drummer Mimi Parker.

With a strong form and style expressed right off in “Plastic Cup,” Low then proceeds to completely beguile listeners by continuing to expand on simple things and make them breathtaking. Songs like “Amethyst,” “So Blue,” “Mother” and “Just Make It Stop” all continue in the vein of “Plastic Cup” and discover new ways to amaze listeners with simple things; be they instrumental (the unstoppable piano figure in “Just Make It Stop” brings to mind images of herds of buffalo running), vocal (Mimi Parker's backup vocals on “Amethyst” and “So Blue” don't just imply desperate intimacy, they both spell it out and mourn it clearly) or lyrical (check out “Now I'm looking up from a ten-foot hole/ Seeing nothing but blue skies shining down on my soul” in “Just Make It Stop”), each has an intoxicating spell that it casts, and listeners will take it hook, line and sinker every time.

By the time “To Our Knees” runs The Invisible Way out of time, listeners will already be trying to figure out where they'd like to pick up in the running for a second pass through – if they don't simply go front to back with the album again. This is the sort of album which can get imaginations spinning out of control and inspire great things; it is not at all like anything else one will hear in 2013.


Low – The Invisible Way – “Just Make It Stop” – [mp3]
Low – The Invisible Way – “So Blue” – [mp3]

The Invisible Way
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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