When I first listened to Low, I was sat in a dark room on a cold winter night. I had The Curtain Hits The Cast playing at a fair volume, This occasion is remembered because the songs were powerful, like Anon and Over The Ocean, they eclipsed me from everything happening around me at the time, took hold of my emotions and implanted the Low scrobble which has been ever increasing since that dark, snowy day in December.
I regard The Curtain Hits The Cast as Low's best effort to date due to it's melancholy feel and incredible harmonic vocals, with touching lyrics. Now in 2011 we have Low's 9th studio album and the third on Seattle label Sub Pop. It opens with the aesthetic Dream Pop guitar work, which is common in Low's discography. Try To Sleep being a typical Low song with a simple refrain of 'Try To Sleep' occurring throughout the song in typical Low fashion. The song as a whole is a great opener, it has nice dynamics and the twinkling keys heard in the verse sounds marvelous.
This is clearly an accessible album, the songs don't challenge me as a listener, nothing needs clearing up and the song structures are rather basic and dated. That aside, I think a new listener should start at this album rather than the early stages of Low. Why? you may ask.. Because the songs here are what Low have been releasing since they originated in the 90's. You can hear aspects from each album in the bands discography, with this release being fresh and ready for your ears to divulge.
I'm disappointed with the mediocre You See Everything, which has a lovely vocal and a tight ending. aside from than these positives, nothing really happens in the song. I feel that it has no flavour, compassion and it's lacking in style, which is something a Slowcore band needs to have. Withes is a welcomed improvement, with Alan taking back control of lead vocals. It has a scorching distorted guitar smashing through the song. One line really catches me in this song, "All you guys out there tryin' to act like Al Green", I'm not sure what to make of this and how to relate it to anything. Just referencing the reverend is good enough for me..
The following songs don't give much, sure, they have beautiful harmonics like on the track Done, a three minute melodic song with extraordinary slide guitar. Especially Me has an improved structure with a bigger, darker sound. The lyrics are far from exciting, with the opening being "Cry me a river". Which is a predictable Low lyric which to be honest, could be used in every song on this album without anyone realizing. The vocals are magnificent, the harmonics have always been a key aspect in Low's sound, without these harmonics, the songs sound very bland and dull.
C'mon does drag on. Several of the songs are very good, the for mentioned few being highlights. As a whole, I cant seem to find any low points on this album, it's an improvement on the recent Low releases. Songs such as Nothing But Heart are great to hear on a back end of an album. It's an eight minute track of pure bliss, which increases in instrumentation and grows in volume as it heads towards the eventful ending, with a simplistic Organ being used to cap it all off.
As you can tell from this review, it's positive. This is no mediocre album, I place it high within Low's dated discography. It's clear to me that this is one of those albums which sparks a new direction, although this is hard for bands like Low due to the fact that they're stuck with the Slowcore tag. Whether or not they can improve on this album all depends on how much time they take to focus on a direction.