Saturday, December 24, 2011

Album Review: Low – Things We Lost In The Fire

2001’s Things We Lost In The Fire, Low’s fifth album (or sixth if you count the Christmas EP) feels like a kind of leap forward. Which is not necessarily a good thing!

It opens with Sunflower, which has a simple, descending melody overlaid with pounding drumbeats. What saves it is that the actual playing, singing and instrumentation is so good, it’s hard to ignore. The album takes a sharp left turn with the sinister, almost threatening Whitetail, with the deathly slow lines “stay… up… all… night… waste… time… waste… night…” And that IS as good as it sounds.

They change tack again with Alan Sparhawk’s heavy riffs on Dinosaur Act, which almost sounds like a ‘standard’ alternative rock song. Mimi Parker gets to do her ghostly shimmering thing on Laser Beam and Embrace, where her wobbling vocals are given gloriously sparse settings.

Although the album slows to a crawl with tracks like Whore and Kind of Girl, Like A Forest picks up the pace dramatically, before one of Low’s warmer tracks Closer, which, like July earlier on the album, features a gorgeous string section.

Many consider this one of Low’s more accessible albums. I’m not so sure. There are accessible tracks (Sunflower, Dinosaur Act) but also foreboding tracks like Whitetail and Embrace. But it’s a strong album, and it stacks up well with Low’s other releases.