Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Low: "The Invisible Way" (album review)

Over the course of ten full length studio albums, Duluth's Low have refined and perfected their glacial dream pop.  The band's latest, The Invisible Way (out Mar 19th), doesn't do much to push that envelope.

Despite being produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, his influence is minimal.  This is definitely a Low album, as we can tell from the melodic and contemplative opener "Plastic Cup".  It is vintage Low.

The true magic of Low is the vocal interplay between Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker.  They combine for gorgeous harmonies on songs like the methodical "Amethyst"  and "On My Own", before the latter breaks down with a heavy cascading guitar.

The harmonies verge on romantic on "Waiting".  It's another emotion, catharsis, that one experiences with the Parker-led closer "To Our Knees".

Tweedy's influence can be heard on a couple of tracks.  "Clarence White" features a (very slow) rhythmic stomp and clap, while "Four Score" has a yearning twang that makes it sound like a morose Jayhawks numbers.

Some perkier moments seep onto the record.  "Just Make It Stop" could almost be mistaken for a Belle & Sebastian pop gem.  A delicious piano part sparks "So Blue" to rise to soaring heights.

All of that aside, the question that begs asking is how many Low albums does a music fan truly need?  The answer is certainly not all ten.  However, if you are just beginning, The Invisible Way, is a decent entry point.

Low play the Great Hall in Toronto on March 16th.

Best tracks: "Just Make It Stop", "To Our Knees"

Track listing for The Invisible Way:
  • Plastic Cup
  • Amethyst
  • So Blue
  • Holy Ghost
  • Waiting
  • Clarence White
  • Four Score
  • Just Make It Stop
  • Mother
  • On My Own
  • To Our Knees

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