LOW – C’Mon (Sub Pop)

For their ninth album in their twenty year career Low have gone back to basics and presented us with a collection of indie rock and pop songs, all delivered in their own inimitable style. Gone are the beats and loops of ‘Drums And Guns’, and the quitet/loud experimentation of ‘The Great Destroyer’, and a song like ‘Try To Sleep’ – which starts the record – shows the masters of slow-core at their very best. ‘You See Everything’ even has a bit of pace to it, and this could be down to the influence of producer Matt Beckley, who has worked with both Leona Lewis and Avril Levine. Perhaps Low want some gloss added to their songs to try and attract a wider audience, although I think their best stuff will always be their slow and moody pieces. A case in point being ‘Witches’, with its heavy guitars emphasising the brooding atmosphere of the song, and this is swiftly followed by ‘Done’, where the reins are firmly pulled back to produce a song that is so slow that it struggles to reach its own conclusion. The thundering chords are helped along by pedal steel guitar from guest Nels Cline, and the whole thing is just classic Low. ‘Especially Me’ is Mimi Parker’s second lead vocal, and once again it comes across as a radio friendly track that could be used to get more people interested in the band. ‘$20’ is an ironic title for a song whose chorus consists of ‘My love is for free’, but its simple melody and heartfelt lyric make it a grower. It leads into one of the highlights of the album, the superb ‘Majesty / Magic’, which starts slowly and quietly and gradually builds until it reaches a crescendo of slowly and deafeningly loud. ‘Nightingale’ brings the mood right back down again, with a lovely slow ballad, but this is all leading to the piece de resistance - ‘Nothing But Heart’. Six minutes of Alan Sparhawk declaiming the title over one of their trademark slow-building grooves, with pedal steel guitar helping the whole thing reach a thundering climax. The album winds down with the upbeat ‘Something Turning Over’ – a duet between Alan and Mimi, and a fitting end to a fine collection of songs. I have to admit to finding 2007’s ‘Drums And Guns’ to be a bit too experimental to rate highly in their canon of work, but ‘C’Mon’ is right up there with their best stuff, and perhaps the commercial edge of some of the songs will gain them some new followers.

Try To Sleep