LOW – The Great Destroyer (Rough Trade)

The first thing you notice about the latest album from Low is that they have upped the volume tremendously, and with the addition of some heavy rock guitar transformed the band into a different beast entirely. The core of the group is still husband and wife duo Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk alongside Zak Sally, but the addition of in vogue producer Dave Fridmann has obviously kick-started the members into coming up with some of their best songs to date. You hear the change from the off, with ‘Monkey’ having a rumbling synth backing whereas before it would have just drifted pleasantly along. Latest single ‘California’ does hark back to former glories, and includes the trademark harmonies which always made the band stand out from the crowd but the harder sound soon returns for ‘Everybody’s Song’. ‘On The Edge Of’ starts out with a Neil Young-like guitar sound, and then mixes that in with one of their effortlessly melodic songs. However, if you really want to hear the new Low then just tune in to ‘Step’, with its fuzz guitar filtering into the chorus, and more notably ‘When I Go Deaf’, where the guitar solo is so unexpected that it literally takes your breath away when it starts. Even the slower songs now have a power that was missing previously, and the lyrics also take on a harder edge – could you ever imagine this strictly Mormon band writing a song called ‘Pissing’? If this release does better than their last few then ‘The Great Destroyer’ could herald a new sound for the band. I must admit that their last album does not get played as much as some of their earlier work, and so for me this new direction is something that I would like to hear much more of.