Low Things We Lost In The Fire

[Kranky; 2001]

Styles: indie rock, slowcore
Others: Bedhead, Nick Cave, p:ano, Yo La Tengo

Low is one of those groups whom I sort of keep expecting to run out of ideas, but they just never seem to. Although they only have three members and the pace of their songs hardly ever reaches that above glacial, they somehow manage to keep putting out one amazing album after another, and Things We Lost In The Fire is no different. As usual, there are a few things that they do to add a slightly new wrinkle to their sound. On the album, they've rounded up a rather large amount of contributing musicians, who have added everything from string backing (with cello, violin, and viola) to a trumpet, piano and even some loops.

Although I mentioned above that the group rarely breaks out of a slow pace, one of the things they actually do a couple times on this release is step things up ever so slightly and each time they manage to make things work just as amazingly. The album opens up with "Sunflower," and despite the somewhat dark lyrics (sounding a bit more like Nick Cave than Low), Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker sing in harmony over an almost upbeat mixture of the trios usual sounds plus a touch of strings. "Dinosaur Act" is the true surprise, though. With drums that almost sound like timpani hits emphasizing things over the regular percussion, as well as louder guitars and even a touch of horns, the chorus is turned into probably the most hummable track the group has ever done. Simply awesome

Of course, the group can still do things on the quieter end of the spectrum as well. "Laser Beam" is really nothing more than Parker singing over some electric guitar (and very quiet piano), but it just shows off her amazing vocals even more with the sparse arrangement while "Whore" is another plodding track with very nice two-part harmony that brightens just a bit at the end with a quickened pace and the addition of chimes. The album closes out with two of the best songs on the release in "Closer" and "In Metal." The former builds steadily with the rocking motion of a gentle sea while the latter is an odd (lyrically) lullaby to Parker and Sparhawks new child Hollis Mae (who contributes some cooing and squeaks) that is the perfect way to end the the release.

While this album may not convince you to be a fan if you've never liked the group before, it's probably still their most easily accessible release for those who have been curious and haven't sought them out yet. The two-part vocal harmonies between Sparhawk and Parker are just as good as ever (if not better) and the instrumentation doesn't falter in any places. Another 12 great tracks from a group whom many thought would probably be a one-trick pony, Low continues to create beautiful music.

1. Sunflower
2. Whitetail
3. Dinosaur Act
4. Medicine Magazines
5. Laser Beam
6. July
7. Embrace
8. Whore
9. Kind of Girl
10. Like a Forest
11. Closer

13. In Metal

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