Low, a trio from Duluth, Minn., are compromised of the husband-wife Mormon team Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk and the nonreligious Zak Sally.
Formed in the early ’90s as an alternative to grunge, Low has a minimal sound, unusual in that, for such sparse instrumentation, it’s not boring.
Dead air, slow, glinting guitars and the vocal interplay between Parker and Sparhawk are all a part of Low’s unusually distinct sound. Upon first listen it’s surprising that “Trust,” like other Low albums, can be so simple yet carry more emotional weight than fully orchestrated albums which end up sounding melodramatic and dry.
Low’s talent lies in that they are incredibly resourceful. Well-crafted lyrics, an incredible ear for melody and unique voices lay at the core of Low’s songwriting. Their instrumentation is unhurried and taut, resulting in gentle, undulating atmospherics upon which the vocals rest.
With each album, Low has slowly expanded the sounds at their disposal without letting novelty lay waste to the music of the album.
“Trust” starts off with the brooding, yet at times uplifting, “Amazing Grace,” their most lush song to date. Parker and Sparhawk’s voices float idly on a dark, soft wall of sounds where guitar, bass, keyboards and drums are kneaded and folded into one another.
Low proves that they can be upbeat too with “Canada.” Fuzz bass kicks it off with a pounding melody. Guitar and drums burst out in suite.
Parker and Sparhawk even raise their voices. “Last Snowstorm of the Year” has the same snow-and-sunshine feel with sleigh bell guitars underscored by sparse tides of more distorted bass and again, shimmering voices.
“Tonight” is bittersweet, bringing to mind a summer night capping off a hellish day. “In the Drugs” is a classic Low song with an elegant, straightforward guitar melody and Sparhawk’s voice at the forefront propelled by Parker’s feathery vocals.
“la la Song” is just as sugary, and shows how evocative a chorus of “la la la” can be. “Point of Disgust” continues that mood with a cutesy piano line, various whooshes and Parker’s falsetto, culminating in what sounds like a musical bedtime story.
“Shots and Ladders” ends the album in much the way it started — yet even more obliquely driving.
“Trust” is the best introduction to Low among their body of work. Although “Trust” is somewhat more of the same from Low, it proves to be a successful integration of all of their previous albums, yet incredibly more refined and more mature. Low has created the perfect music for a snowy night.
Kenific can be reached at email@example.com.