The Great Destroyer
/sub pop; 2005/

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Low seemed to stick to a formula they had been developing and repeating for almost ten years. Most of their songs have been either dark, slow-moving and pounding dirges, or peaceful drifts. Magnificent ethereal and entwined voices, giving the impression of bewailing deaths, have been another cornerstone in their singular style.

Low has finally added rhythm and it’s all for the best. Don’t expect a punk album. It’s the same, only different. They’ve just set aside their languid yet graceful sluggishness (except on a couple of song) and quickened the pace a bit.

They’ve even shifted from down-tempo, slow-moving songs to mid-tempo songs sometimes. ‘California’ is a piece of melancholy indie-pop which could be released as a single! Its mid-tempo, slightly staccato riff makes you think of songs by say, Sebadoh (think ‘On Fire’ for instance) or Sparklehorse with Low’s particular entwined voices. ‘Just stand back’ and ‘Step’ nod in the direction of the laid-back countryside indie-pop/Americana tradition. In ‘Everybody’s song’ the band takes up the dark atmosphere of their dirges and unfurls it with noisy rhythm to make a sensational, intense number.

There is a noisy aspect in The Great Destroyer, be it extremely dark making you think of a dusty abandoned and remote house (‘Pissing’), or quite loud to undermine a folk-ish beginning (‘When I Go Deaf’). ‘On the Edge of’ and ‘Broadway’ are beautiful songs with gentle valleys and peaks. In the latter, there is a pleasant crescendo in which the voices convey an ethereal sensation.

The Great Destroyer is brighter than any other Low album because there are not as many funereal orations but it remains far from being happy-go-lucky, carefree indie music. It is a great album. It’s simple as that. It opens up new horizons in Low’s doleful universe. There is even a touching folk song just consisting of voice & guitar (‘Death of a Salesman’). But don’t be scared, there are still peaceful slow drifts endowed with a religious aspect (‘Silver Rider’) and these oh so wonderful, eerie dirges haunted by pounding drums and spreading vocals, ‘Monkey’ being a true work of art.

-Blacklisted ‘destroyed’ Igor.

/jan 15th 2005/