Low, Trust [Rough Trade]
Some bands reach their initial vision of greatness,
achieve what they wanted to, and cling to their one solitary idea like leeches.
Some people cant work out any way past the formula that worked for them
way back when. Low's music has seemed impervious to change, too, but Low have
grown and flourished without radically altering what made them stand out from
the crowd in the first place.
And, without doing a disservice to their several
other amazing albums, what a delightful thing they have grown into. Trust
has been branded Lows Deserters Songs by some people,
suggesting it is a magnificent way to cap their rise through the ranks. In my
opinion its their most refined and confident album yet, but also offers
further evidence of the way that their entire recorded output overlaps and interlocks
so gracefully. A career as one fluid movement. These things arent supposed
to happen any more.
This thirteen track album starts off with (Thats
how we sing) Amazing Grace, and its obvious at this early stage
that the decision to revise the production team has been a wise one. Before,
it helped Low to work with producers who would more or less capture the band
as they played (Kramer and Steve Albini chief among them) but now theres
a sense of using the studio as a tool and not merely a workspace. Alan Sparhawk
recently stated we tried new things, and we took some risks which
is an accurate assessment of the record. At no point however did he say oh,
we sound like ELO or lets get the Royal Philharmonic in, gang.
The band who redefined economical songwriting, and thrive on space in their
music, know enough not to burden the songs with weighty over-embellishments.
So there may be more going on but its mostly under the surface. Subtle
little things, not unreasonably.
Of course, production is nothing without quality
of material and there is no shortage of that here. This record is thirteen strokes
of complete brilliance. There are rich folk-pop numbers like In the Drugs
and La La La Song; there are pieces of driving drone-rock like Canada
and Last Snowstorm; there is eerie avant-rock like I am the
lamb and Shots & Ladders. On 'Trust' Low do breezy singalongs,
but balance these out with bloodshot slo-mo trance-outs. Mostly though there
are slowburning melodies waiting for you to succumb, and all bound with the
stunning trademark combination of Alan and Mimi Parkers voices. Which
is business as usual. Then theres the lyrics. Low are capable of no-frills
direct emotional content with their lyrics, or they can take a creepy surrealist
bent. The words on Trust are another perfect balance between the
intimate and the intimidating. If for no other reason, then you must hear this
to discover how the throwaway pop phrase sha-la-la is turned into something
unsettling and deeply sinister.
After every record, some critic somewhere must
say Low have reached the pinnacle, only for them to top it. Expectations were
high following their magnificent 2001 album ..The Fire, and I doubted,
shame on me. Low deliver again, creating something which is new and refreshing
yet retaining all that they were. Trust will be very high on my
personal list of favourite albums of this year, certainly, for its marvelously
evocative and vivid songs and masterful sense of pace. It's utterly compelling
listening. Low matter.
-- Craig Scott
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