After two decades together, indie group Low has managed to make music that is at once understated and powerful. With no disrespect to Steve Garrington, who holds his own on bass, the driving element of Lowâ€™s sound is the intertwining vocals of married couple Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker.
This is the bandâ€™s tenth album, and the formula is still as ravishing as ever. The Invisible Way is quiet, even for a Low record. It’s far more stripped-back than 2011â€™s enchanting Câ€™mon, but this stripped-back quality is permitted to flourish thanks to the production of Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy.
One of the most compelling aspects of Lowâ€™s music is the bandâ€™s ability to make the darkest of topics sound hauntingly beautiful. From the frustration of â€œPlastic Cupâ€ (â€œMaybe you should go out and write your own damn song and move onâ€) to the plaintive â€œHoly Ghostâ€ (â€œI feel the hands, but I do not see anyoneâ€), melody is always the driving force. The beat is soothing, and Parker and SparhawkÂ switch and share vocal duties seamlessly.
While â€œWaitingâ€ is so sparsely arranged that the piano and guitar are difficult to notice behind the voices, â€œClarence Whiteâ€ relishes in an instrumental introduction that lasts nearly a minute. For me, the highlight is â€œOn My Own,â€ with Parker providing perfect harmonizing for SparhawkÂ before a thick, sprawling guitar solo giving way to a bellowed, cryptic â€œhappy birthdayâ€ at the end.
Low are the masters of atmosphere, and The Invisible Way solidifies this legacy. Look no further for a primer in the bittersweetness of life.