The Great Destroyer

Sub Pop

I usually rely on the Sisters B. for all my Low related needs, but they can’t seem to get through The Great Destroyer‘s opening track, “Monkey,” without stalling. I offer them the same advice I’ll give to anyone else paralyzed by the album’s alarming start: skip straight to “Silver Rider.” This track allows an unsteady listener to bask in Low at a more moderate level, but one still given to new realms of expansive expression. The layered chorus and guitars shine light on vistas only previously hinted at in their dark and somber days.

“On the Edge Of” sinks into brittle familiarity on its breathtakingly silent pre-chorus, done in 1/4 time with only Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s heavenly vocal harmonies to sustain it. “When I Go Deaf” is similarly rooted in “old” Low; there isn’t much driving the song except for a single guitar and the vocal interplay. Whereas the band’s previous sound would have them sigh softly into the night, this Low brings an explosion that cascades in a wash of shoegaze noise. Likewise, “Pissing” has a quickening pace and a deep-rooted sense of urgency in the bowed cello lines that hang over the song like storm clouds ready for a downpour.

Once the end of the album rolls around, I suggest revisiting the opening trio of songs to see if they’re more palatable. There should be no problem enjoying them for what they are: the sounds of Sparhawk and Parker actually having fun while still retaining their singular voice in independent music. The album title might be a conscious nod toward destroying their old image, but the heart I’ve appreciated the band for is still there; it’s just beating a little faster.

Sub Pop: www.subpop.com

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