Low, The Curtain Hits the Cast [Vernon Yard]
Rating: 6 / 10
HELLO AND welcome, you join us with the competitors limbering up for the World's Slowest Band one metre freestyle. And they're off! Red House Painters have started well but, oops, they seem to be suffering a bit on the inspiration front. Codeine are there, barely moving at all. But just look at Low - positively streaking behind the field at a funereal pace! It's their race to lose now!
Such is the doomy, slo-core-surpassing extremity of the Duluth (yes, Duluth) trio's third LP. Great. But just when do you play the wretched thing? On those stuffy summer afternoons when the lawnmower won't work and the cat's run off with the neighbours? After that fifth red light on the drive home from bingo? Truth is, when life does present situations inconsolably sad enough to compliment the pervading mood of 'The Curtain Hits The Cast', everyone's already reached for the hankies and discarded their record collections anyway. Which, in Low's case, seems more than a little unfortunate. They may be soundtracking your worst catastrophes but, more often than not, it's beautiful. If only in the darkest possible way. Mimi Parker's fallen angel vocals on 'The Plan' doubtless sound an absolute blast to some goth tarantula residing in purgatory and, shucks, the lush but suicidal 'Over The Ocean' is surely top fun for the man-eating piranha community of the Dead Sea. In the more jolly human world, however, it's all a little less bearable.
Still, where there's pain, there's irony. Sort of. A record which boasts the opening line "Clean bill of health", sung in a voice so sickly it could have just escaped from Casualty, can't be completely sarcasm-free. Later, there's a song called 'Laugh'. You won't, obviously.
Ultimately, 'The Curtain...' is a major test of patience. Not just for you, the long-suffering listener, but for Low also. After all, how easy can it be to play for over an hour and not up the tempo ONCE? One can only wonder about the nature of their pace-sustaining substances in the studio at the time of recording. E's and wizz? We think not.