Sunday, April 10, 2011

Low - C'mon review

Sometimes I think genres of music are the stupidest thing ever particularly in indie rock. I've always found names like slowcore, math rock and sadcore to be reductionist and misrepresentative of the actual nature of the music. This seems especially true for a band like Low whose quietest work can be a joyous and emotive tour de force despite it's low key packaging (far from the sadcore label they are often tarnished with). Fortunately, Low's new album features some of their most beautiful and strangely accessible work to date.

I have to admit having mixed feelings about the last two Low albums. While I didn't particularly enjoy the forced rock-ness of The Great Destroyer, their last album Drums and Guns almost seemed too much of a retreat into the 'slowcore' aesthetic even if it was filled with jagged edges and a righteous anger about the war in Iraq. C'mon seems immediately brighter, lighter and upbeat than both these albums. This may be a product of yet another line up change as Low go through bass players like Spinal Tap go through drummers. While Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker (guitar and drums, husband and wife, vocalists and Mormons) remain constant, it seems this line up change has re-vitalised them. Steve Garrington who previously played keyboards for them now moves to bass duties as well.

The songs with Parker on lead vocals seem the strongest particularly the divine beauty and drive of Especially Me (above) and airy pop of You See Everything. Sparhawk's strongest moment comes in the slow build and thunder of Majesty/Magic. The songs build to the climatic Nothing But Heart, an eight minute epic which is the closest Low will ever get to a Neil Young raver. These are highlights across a strong set of songs which echo Low's earlier works without being a backward step or at odds with the bands sonic trajectory.

I have no criticism here as with a number of other acts of a comparable age, Low appear to be having a late career renaissance. This is a great record and I don't think it being called C'mon is a mystery - there is a rejuvenated and upbeat spirit that moves through even the slowest songs. It's hardly music to pump your fist to but it will move you. Highly recommended.


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