Low, Secret Name (Kranky)
from CMJ Issue 611, 29 March 1999.
Sometimes the simplest things in life are the finest -- a little black dress, a single flower bud, a glass of crystal clear water. Low builds its songs with similarly sparse elements, but the results reveal a powerful purity of vision. This Duluth, Minnesota, trio's fourth full-length album of new material (recorded by Steve Albini) finds the band expanding its horizons in both song structure and instrumentation. There's a great range of sounds here, spanning Low's most restrained, hushed moments thus far to the thundering crashes of noise on the ominous "Don't Understand." In addition to increased experimentation with piano, Secret Name is also Low's first full-length album with strings, as melancholy cello, viola and violin strains blend perfectly with the haunting vocals of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. While some people mistakenly assume that Low's slow rhythms are sleep-inducing, Low's songs often supply more drama and tension than you'll find in blazing rock 'n' roll. The hypnotic patterns leave you sitting on the edge of your seat, savoring the clarity of each note and wondering what's to come next.
- Wendy Mitchell: CMJ New Music Report Issue: 611 - Mar 29, 1999