Low - review of Songs for a Dead Pilot
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Low, Songs for a Dead Pilot [Kranky]
Rating: 9.3

Since Low's first full-length release, 1994's I Could Live In Hope, their "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy has been fail-proof. 1995's Long Division and 1996's The Curtain Hits The Cast (not to mention the EPs in between) have all been perfect packages of warm and comfy slowcore. And just when it was all about to get boring, they pull Songs for a Dead Pilot out of their hats, and well... let's just say that it sounds like phase two.

Dead Pilot introduces a few new elements. They've added keyboards, a string section, and some different- sounding percussion. Plus, this EP is almost entirely free of reverb. Doesn't sound like the Low you know? Well, don't be discouraged, 'cause it is. The songs are still brilliantly sad and beautiful, and the pace of the songs is still quite clearly "Lowcore." The only thing that's really been changed is the production.

I'm still partial to these guys 'cause they're from the same state as me, but if you liked 'em before, it's only gotten better. The opening experiment- in- sound, "Will the Night," is like a walk through a haunted forest; "Condescend," "Landlord" and "Hey Chicago" are traditional Low with more emphasis on melody; the 13.5 minute-long epic "Born By The Wires" is the soundtrack to the life of some half- starved, barely- breathing fourteen year old girl in a closet; and the record's highlight, "Be There," utilizes a Hammond organ and stomping percussion to accentuate the incredibly memorable melody.

All told, Dead Pilot fits in with the Kranky label's 'sound,' while retaining all the perfection of great Low album. Wondering if you really want to pay $10 for six songs? Um... you do.

-Ryan Schreiber