Low CD review by Howard Wuelfing

Music Reviews
Low CD review by Howard Wuelfing
Jan 30, 2008, 02:46

Low - Drums and Guns

LOW Drums & Guns CD

It's nice to see an institution age gracefully, especially one rooted in a tightly defined aesthetic premise. Here on Drums & Guns slo-core figureheads Low do just that.

There's no paradigm shifting or stylistic pole-vaulting going on, just some nicely organic extensions of their central artistic tenets. All these numbers proceed at a pronouncedly relaxed pace and their focus is the powerful, tuneful singing of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. If these vocals were ensconced in conventional poppy settings, these guys could easily give anyone from the New Pornographers to Miley Cyrus a run for their money. Instead, their accompaniment consists of a series of nouvelle-vague studies: you'll find looped collages of various blurred noises, or just simply a stark, lonely beat, or muted, blurry, unobtrusive playing. There's typically one instrument clearly stating a supportive melodic line acting as both ballast and buttress. Even within this proscribed vocabulary, each and every song is distinct, imaginative and evocative.

There's a nice tension between the muscular vocal presence and the foggy diffusion of the instrumental tracks. There's also a streak of derring-do as Parker and Sparhawk sing without any melodic safety net. But they never lose balance and it's yet another thrill contributing to the subtle yet powerful impact achieved throughout. [Sub Pop]

-Howard Wuelfing


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