Review: Low – The Invisible Way
Published on March 25th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
A tenth album of ‘slowcore’ from the revered Minnesota trio, The Invisible Way was produced by Wilco hero Jeff Tweedy and continues very much in the vein of 2011 predecessor C’mon rather than revisit the experimentation of their Dave Fridmann produced output. Suffice it to say, it’s softly burning, somnambulant and quite bewitching, but it is ultimately hamstrung by the lack of surprises on offer.
Husband and wife team Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker still combine to beautiful effect on those sweet harmonies, which are evident from the off on opener “Plastic Cup”. Here they share work space with some stargazing country draped over a gently pounding timpani, not to mention such memorable lines as “Now they make you piss into a plastic cup / Give it up”, paving the way for “Amethyst” to consolidate the comforting/frustrating (depending on your point of view) air of familiarity.
“So Blue” features boy/girl harmonies so impassioned and splendorous that it feels wrong to describe them as boy/girl harmonies – how about “male/female” harmonies? – while its chiming piano chords and wistfully sunny properties make the words “so blue with you” feel somehow triumphant. “Waiting” is two minutes and thirty-eight seconds of what might happen if Paul Simon and Spiritualized were spliced together, and “Just Make It Stop” is bittersweet pop worthy of Belle and Sebastian, brooding sweetly atop a relatively quick-shuffling drum beat as Parker rues not being able to “tell the world to get out of the way”.
Indeed, the lyrical content is strong throughout: “Clarence White” refers to a movie as “you know, the one with Charlton Heston that used to scare me”, while the wearily sophisticated sea shanty of “Mother” wields the likes of “When you became my mother, there was a time / You thought I would be a daughter, but didn’t mind” and “You gave me light and language, and a name / You held me to the fire, to the flame”. As such it’s easy to forgive “On My Own” its whimsical round of “happy birthday”s, especially as it transforms from breezily trotting folk into something so stirring over the course of its five minutes and fourty-four seconds, and then it’s left to “To Our Knees” to bring the curtain down on a ‘Lambchop meets Neil Young’ note. An album to satisfy existing fans, then – and why not?
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
The Invisible Way is out now on Sub Pop. For more information, please visit the official Low website.