As if Low needed a selling point for their new record, they’ve got Jeff Tweedy on production duties. But if you’re expecting the sonic pallet of a Wilco experience a la Yankee Hotel Foxtrot you’re in the wrong place. Tweedy understands the task before him and has captured Low at their very Low best. The starkness of their previous records is not forgotten on this album.
Opening track ‘Plastic Cup’ typifies the experience with a subtle backbeat, sparse arrangement and beautiful harmonies. The lyrics seem to deal with an innocuous plastic cup and somehow that is then taken further with an historical relevance. That is also very Low, aware of microscopic details and making it so very important.
‘So Blue’ raises the tempo further than the usual stolen ‘slowcore’ sound that they are most recognizable for, and which is found in tracks such as ‘Waiting’. Drummer and vocalist of the band Mimi Parker harmonises with herself and shows a sense of confidence that sometimes Low have yearned for on previous records. That effect is also echoed on one of the standout tracks on the album – ‘Just make it stop’. ‘Four Score’ and ‘To our Knees’ showcase Parker’s soaring voice which, without using hyperbole for hyperbole’s sake, is so good she could be our 21st Century torch singer.
‘Clarence White’ sadly doesn’t deal the ex-member of the Byrds and friend of Gram Parsons but more of vocalist Alan Sparrowhawk’s ‘fear of being afraid’. On ‘Mother’ we hear Alan as a country music troubadour dealing with the importance of the relationship of mother and child, through some beautiful lyrics (‘Deep beneath the surface of the earth/So many bodies waiting for the word/When every child and mother will return’). ‘On My Own’ with it’s knife distortion over the mantra of ‘Happy Birthday’ is ‘Dig a Pony’ meets Neil Young & Crazy Horse, which is no bad thing.
The Invisible Way will tick the boxes of current Low fans successfully and also hopefully bring in some new ones thanks to the sense of confidence that meanders its way through the album.
Words: Louis Gilbert