It’s official. No matter how hard I try, I cannot love a record by Low. The opening two tracks to new record ‘The Invisible Way’ were so promising. I was sitting thinking, ‘this is it, this is the album that breaks the trend’. Sadly, it’s not.
This is not an album review though. It’s more a musing about the stumbling blocks I have with Low. And why a band who so many people love and who produce dark, sombre, downbeat tunes, which should be right up my street, do not seem to register with me in a positive way. And I think I have the answer.
When the voices of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker combine with Sparhawk on lead vocals and Parker backing, the songs are often simply stunning. ‘Plastic Cup’ and ‘Amethyst’ being two perfect examples. However, as a lead vocal, I cannot stand Parkers voice. The tracks go from interesting to bland in an instant and it’s hugely frustrating. ‘So Blue’ and ‘Holy Ghost’ are both interesting tracks, but I sit longing for them to be sung by Sparhawk and not Parker. I am sure if they were I would find them much more appealing. That’s not to say that all songs with Sparhawk on lead vocals are amazing, they are not. But for the most part Low, lead by Sparhawk are a much more interesting proposition for me.
With Jeff Tweedy in command of production this was always going to be a more harmonic/melodic affair and added to my hope that something positive would happen to me when I listened to the record. And his influence on the music ios clear enough. I just cannot love Low though. In much the same way I cannot ever love Pavement (though I cannot even bring myself to like them), I just cannot find the love for Low that so many people I have known in music have.
Maybe the next album will change my mind about them. But I say that every time. And it never happens. So I will enjoy the tracks from this record that I do like and hope that maybe next time they will go a bit further – though I doubt with Parker on lead vocals I’ll ever like a full album.