Low - review of Secret Name
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Low, Secret Name (Kranky)

Low's musical approach has always been understated. Just as some people only speak when they have something truly important and worthwhile to say, Low's music consists of only the most essential, fragile, easily-overwhelmed elements of melody and rhythm. Low filters out needless embellishments, presenting gracefully elemental songs that connect with the listener on a conscious level and offer moments of riveting fascination. "Starfire", with its wanly-strummed melody and confidently unhurried drumming, is a perfect example; in the song's final moments, slowly chiming guitars mesh with Mimi Parker's vocals to create a rapturous intensity. Likewise, the gently echoing psychedelia of "Missouri" sparkles with the tangible energy of Alan Sparhawk and Parker's shared vocal, set against a backdrop of gently fluttering guitar. This flows into the symphonically mournful "Don't Understand", which amasses its displeasure for three minutes before punctuating every sombre lyrical word with staccato beats of guitar and bass drum. Fans of more conventional pop should gravitate to "Immune", in which sleepy-voiced Sparhawk and Parker front a disarmingly sedate guitar/bass/keyboard/drums setup, creating beautifully elegant harmonies that any other band would drown in a wash of obligatory jangle. And I don't have enough words left to address the amazing beauty of "Lion/Lamb"...suffice it to say it's quite stunning. Secret Name is an album for people who like to hear and feel the music, rather than merely using it as background -- and mark my words, such listeners will discover a depth of feeling.

- George Zahora