Low, "Things We Lost In The Fire" (Tugboat)
Duluth. You can find it in Minnesota, a bleak, perpetually wintry Midwestern hinterland where nothing happens and few people mind. While not as middle-of-nowhere isolated as Montana, Minnesota is also nowhere near as beautiful, and Duluth is as drab a town as you could hope never to find. Hell, it even sounds like a depressing place. Duh-looth. The kind of place to skip past on the map when driving through. The kind of place from which to escape. The kind of place, perhaps, that would produce bands with names like Low, who in turn make albums called stuff like Things We Lost In The Fire.
This is not an especially cheery record. But then Low, now onto album number five, have never been about smile-inducing pop music. Rather, their speciality is the kind of lugubrious, deliberately laboured guitar rock with which many lose patience almost before it's begun but which, given time, reveals itself to be possessed of a rare and intransigent grace.
Low's music creeps up on the listener prepared to give it the attention it demands: measured, staked to a wire, precise, spartan (like 1999's stunning Secret Name, Things We Lost In The Fire benefits hugely from Steve Albini's sympathetic production) but also as beautiful as a crisp, dewy Sunday morning in winter. Standout tracks include mesmeric recent single Dinosaur Act and the plaintive July, but it's hard to separate individual tracks out from an album that's so clearly meant to be heard as a whole. Strung out, special, and, a little perversely, the best and most appropriate advert their hometown could ever hope to receive.
Things We Lost in the Fire on Amazon.com