Low, "Things We Lost In The Fire" (Kranky)
from CMJ Issue 701, 12 February 2001
With each new recording, Low makes only minor - hell, often nearly imperceptible - changes to its sound. But when it comes to such an aesthetically precious style, it's the small details that really count. In the case of Things We Lost In The Fire, the Minnesota trio's fifth proper full-length, it's the subtle evolution of guitarist Alan Sparhawk and drummer Mimi Parker's neo-spiritual vocal ache that makes the album such an understated stunner. On the stark, simmering "Whitetail," Sparhawk plays up the song's mounting tension by stretching out his words with a patient, mantra-like disconnect. Parker's quivering restraint on the similarly bare-boned "Embrace" is just as hypnotic, only it counters the former's numbness with a purely naked intimacy. Elsewhere, the couple's gospel-pure harmonies - particularly on the quietly thunderous "Dinosaur Act" and the delicately sweet "Kind Of Girl" - achieve a lush, rapturous state of grace. Sparhawk's gentle string and brass arrangements take on a new level of effectiveness here, beautifully underscoring the melancholic arch in the couple's vocal melodies. "I don't need a laser beam/ I don't need the time," Parker assures us in her angelic coo, but it's already quite obvious: Low's music needs neither force nor speed to deliver its emotionally exacting message.
- Colin Helms: CMJ New Music Report Issue: 701 - Feb 12, 2001
Things We Lost in the Fire on Amazon.com