Low -‘The Invisible Way’ (Subpop)
This year Low celebrate twenty years together as a band, and The Invisible Way is their tenth album. Recorded with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy in the producer’s chair, as you’ve almost certainly been aware of for months now, the big issue will be: how does it differ from previous Low records?
In the pre-release bumpf that has come ahead of the release, Low’s frontman Alan Sparhawk has made the three points about how he sees it differing:
– Mimi sings lead on five of the eleven songs (she usually only does one or two, despite being a fan favorite).
– Piano, lots of piano… and an acoustic guitar.
– Songs about intimacy, the drug war, the class war, plain old war war, archeology, and love.
Mind you, John Peel used to say about The Fall that they were always different and always the same. The above points are all true, but it doesn’t stop it from sounding like Low. Indeed, the only band who have come close to sounding like Low are eagleowl.
Low were sometimes described as being ‘sadcore’ and there are moments like the opening ‘Plastic Cup’ where they seem to be dwelling on the futility of existence ‘Now they make you piss into a plastic cup…the cup will probably be here long after we’re gone.’ I have no idea what this references, yet somehow it’s achingly beautiful. And there’s always a surprise element to Low as well. Just as the opening salvo of ‘Monkey’ and ‘California’ indicated that they were not making another album that sounded like Things We Lost In The Fire or Trust on The Great Destroyer back in 2005, so here the intoning of ‘Happy Birthday Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday!’ on the penultimate ‘On My Own’ seems almost incongruous – yet strangely, just like Low.
Long may they be Low. And long may they surprise and delight us.
The Invisible Way is out now on Subpop