Although past their pioneering role in the emergence of slowcore in the nineties, Low are still quietly churning out delicate, melodic pieces. With their tenth studio album 'The Invisible Way', they have combined with fellow mid-westerner Jeff Tweedy with the Wilco front man on producing duties.
Over the last decade, whilst staying true to a stripped-back, subtle approach, Low have evolved from their dark, mid-nineties rawness. 'The Invisible Way' sees drummer Mimi Parker take a more established role in the vocal department; on previous releases the harmonies have been largely led by guitarist Alan Sparhawk.
The album touches on issues of loss, reminiscence and illness. Opener 'Plastic Cup' introduces a gentle guitar line alongside the simplistic thud of a bass drum before Parker's vocals spiral around the growing mix of strings and piano chords. The lyrics of 'some holy ghost keeps me hanging on' are delivered with unassuming passion on fourth track 'Holy Ghost'. It becomes clear that, although there won't be any particular moments that will grab your attention, it is near impossible to find any fault with this album.
The influence of Jeff Tweedy is clear as the introductory piano instrumentation on 'So Blue', before Parker's vocals break down the chord progression, could easily be the beginning of a Wilco track. Recorded in Wilco's Chicago studio, it is evident that the Low of the stripped back guitar, bass and drums have adapted and progressed, with deep pianos resonating throughout the majority of the album. 'Just Make It Stop' brings to mind the indie pop of Belle & Sebastian, highlighting Low's willingness to accommodate different ideas and approaches whilst staying loyal to their minimalist subtlety. Despite the dark, brooding lyrics, the final few tracks on the album are relatively upbeat. Mellow chords lie under a fuzzy guitar line on 'On My Own'. The resultant textures tap into surreal, progressive rock elements as Sparhawk's vocals join the mix, repeating 'Happy Birthday' for the final minute.
With 'The Invisible Way' Low have created something beautiful and ambitious, the instrumentation compliments the vocals perfectly whilst the haunting lyrics will provide satisfaction over multiple listens. Low have done what they do best, delivering a consistent, pleasant album. Even though there aren't any tracks that jump out or any moments that will stay with you, Low aren't that kind of band, it is the experience of listening to the gentle lull that makes 'The Invisible Way' a welcome addition to an impressive discography.
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