Drums and Guns
Low have always been one of those square peg bands. Formed in 1993, when grunge was king, they carved out a niche in the industry as a truly unique group that was doing something a bit more interesting.
Now, in 2007, when rudimentary guitar rock in once again in vogue, Low have changed again, introducing hip-hop influenced loops and beats to their instantly recognisable sound. The contrary buggers.
Although the band is formed around the husband and wife core of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, there is no sign of comfortable domesticity on this desert-dry collection of experimental pop songs. In particular, songs like 'Dragonfly' and 'Dust on the Window' exhibit a kind of desolate and creepy electro-blues that makes for brilliantly unsettling listening. Elsewhere, 'Hatchet' is easily the funkiest thing the band have ever recorded, and 'Breaker' boasts strong electro beats that give the album an invigorating kick.
What is most striking about Drums and Guns though, is the way the incredible dual harmonies of Sparhawk and Parker are brought to the foreground and allowed room to breathe, a technique that producer and Flaming Lips cohort Dave Fridmann must take some credit for. The best example of the pair's spine-tingling harmony work comes on 'Your Poison', which is mostly acapella except for the rise and fall of acoustic guitars and drums; it's a remarkable achievement.
Drums and Guns will probably go down as one of the finest albums of the year, but regardless of polls, this is an example of an already great band gaining maturity, and producing the best work of their careers.