7} Low : C’mon
Low have a somewhat understandable reputation as miserablists. However, that tag is much too reductionist to be very meaningful. They’ve made a career out of exploring angst and melancholy in gorgeous, slow-motion, honey-drip songs, so finely wrought they might as well be set in platinum and worn around your finger. As impressive and fruitful as this course has been in their career, it’s nice to see them loosening up their taut control on the last couple of albums. Cranking up the guitar distortion on The Great Destroyer, and utilizing jittery, programmed/looped beats for Drums And Guns. Low’s latest sees Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker still singing sadly in that swoony, gilded braid of harmony, but with a freer, more open quality. A new humor comes through in lyrics like “All you guys out there trying to act like Al Green,” and a lightness of step in the warm, waltzy strum of Try To Sleep. Don’t get me wrong, melancholia still abounds on C’mon. It’s just that much more effective when set against an almost merry melody as in Something’s Turning Over, or overcome by an ecstatic, Neil Youngish, electric guitar blitz in Nothing But Heart. It’s sort of the musical equivalent of the moment when the Ugly Duckling realizes he’s been a beautiful swan all along.