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Low – Ones And Sixes

September 13, 2015


I am not sure there is a band name that so perfectly matches the band’s music. Low are the masters of the slow boil – Laconic and lugubrious. Their music is a whisper – more of a suppressed scream actually. Not depressing, but it gives the feel of deep contemplation.

I first got turned on to Low on their 2005 release The Great Destroyer.  An album so great Robert Plant has covered two of its songs (“Silver Rider” and “Monkey”).  Their material has been consistently good and Ones And Sixes continues the trend.

The band is defined by their minimalistic arrangements and sweet vocal harmonies of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker.  On their last album, The Invisible Way, Mimi took a more prominent role with the vocals and that brought the band to a new level.  She has a similar role on Ones And Sixes.  Low has reached that esteemed place that I will buy their latest release without sampling or reading any reviews. You just know it is going to be good (and maybe even great).

The LP opens with “Gentle” where a resting heartbeat of a rhythm anchors intertwined vocals the ends with a nice Mimi solo vocal. Although quite, the music arrangement has an edge – it sounds like beautiful rust looks.

“No Comprende” has a simple guitar riff as the foundation for a passionate Sparhawk vocal. The song ends on a tangled guitar solo and a fade to black.

“Spanish Translation” opens light an airy, gets heavy and then floats off to the stratosphere. Repeat. A lesser band would have bent to hubris and made this an anthem. Low shows restraint and we are blessed with the results.

Side B opens with “Congregation” a Parker lead. Her voice is so compelling you almost miss the nice amazing bass work going on behind her.

“No End” has a late 60s prog band feel.

“Into You” sounds like a Radiohead song if they were fronted by a chick and were not afraid to mix in a little guitar.

Side C starts light and poppy with “What Part Of Me.”  A bouncy number disguises desperate lyrics:

“Can’t you see that I’m bleeding out here?

Waking up from a dream and I’m here

It’s getting hard to believing out here

It’s a 100 degrees out here.”

“The Innocents” is a guitar driven song with  Wilco’s Glen Kotche contributing percussion.

“Kid In The Corner” is almost danceable. Just a plain fun track.

On to Side D –  opening with the jangling  guitars of “Lies.”  This is the most blatantly pop song on the album. Low puts on their Fleetwood Mac pants on. This deserves to be a hit. An absolutely soaring chorus.

“Landslide” opens with ominous chords. The most metal song on the album.  Think Black Sabbath on quaaludes. It has a wonderfully meandering ending like Neil Young wandering off with the Horse. Distortion has never sounded more hypnotic.

“DJ” has a thickness to it.  It makes me want to take a bit out of it like a warm cookie fresh out of the oven.

This is an absolutely gorgeous sounding album. The vinyl edition is pristine and lush. As usual great packaging. Low continues to deliver.

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