Album Review

Low – “Drums and Guns ” – [Subpop]

Thurston Hunger   3/8/2007   A Library, CD

It used to be that with Low, the gorgeous harmonies and the slow sweeps
of guitar gracefully masked a murky malevolence lurking in the lyrics.
At this point, the harshness has stepped forward and the sweetness is
the shadowy secret. I suspect it’s in part the emotional response to the
snakebit political climate? As always Alan and Mimi streamline the words
so well, they clearly understand less is more…still a line like
“They thought the desert would divide us…”
is a dipstick dripping with blood. The drums on this record are angry,
even the handclapping on “Breaker” is brittle and smarts. A lot of
great use of keyboards and clustered piano, additionally I think Alan’s
guitar work is heroic on this…from the halo of flies that launch the
album on through the sort of Alastair Galbreath faux reverse voodoo to
the last drops of drowning Dead C. He had a nice solo sputternick
release on Silber last year and it feels like he found a way to fold
his ringing experimentalism into a popular fabric. Additionally, an
irate gospel flare is ignited, makes me curious about Master Sparhawk’s
Retribution Gospel Choir. Try snarling the phrase “Good People..” as
Alan does on “Your Poison.” Don’t miss Mimi’s blood-freezing voice on
“Sandinista” it’s very Crosby Kills Gnashing the Young. “Hatchet” is
the happiest child here, a peace offering (to Zak, to Mimi, to demons
in general) citing two classic bands, Molly Hatchet and Lynryd…um, no.
Check out its Richard’s riff and then a McCartney seventh at the end. At
first it seemed so out of place, but now it’s a little respite I look
forward to…and dig that thrift shop drum machine beat. This is up
there with “Secret Name” and “Long Division.”

This time the darkness shines more than ever before.

-Thurston Hunger

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