Low - review of Trust
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Low, Trust [Kranky]

from the Brain, Volume V Issue 36, 22 September 2002.

Just when you think you can really predict Low, they toss a curve ball in your direction which ends up coming back and hitting you smack on the noggin' and knocks you out. Without a doubt, Low has recorded their creepiest, most diverse, most intense, and least hit-song-friendly record to date. Once again, I am completely floored. Lyrically and musically, the band keeps growing (exponentially so) in their abilities and daringness, merging fantastic vocal harmonies with shudderingly eerie music, unpredictable lyrics and deceptively simple and un-abused melodies. There's a certain intimacy to Low's music, as anybody who has seen them live can attest to, and on early recordings, even Low's albums sounded like the band could easily be in the same room as the listener. Over the last few albums, however, the band has almost distanced the live feel with the recorded sound, as production has included a number of elements which simply cannot be repeated live with their simple three-piece lineup. For this, the group tried a new approach. The trio captured the recordings in Duluth before bringing to producer Tschad Blake (Richard Thompson, Los Lobos, Sheryl Crow) for the mix. While much of the music was live, the group actually experimented with a larger variety of both effects and instruments. Backup singers, bells, organ, accordion and banjo aren't things most Low fans are used to hearing (but then again, neither was the optigan back on 'Secret Name'). The first most noticable departure is the album's overall aggression, heard right from the get-go. Forceful percussive sounds are the driving forces on the song's opener, "(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace," a vocally-harmonic treat that gives me chilling goose-bumps, along with "Candy Girl," which I swear has toilet flushes, and "I am the Lamb," (a track with guest vocals by Gerry Buckley of America) which opens quietly with clapping and makes a song-length crescendo to the point of stomping and hitting wooden blocks by the song's end. Anybody who has seen them over the past year will probably recognize the jaw-droppingly beautiful songs like "Little Argument with Myself" and "In the Drugs," along with songs like "John Prine" which have been part of their live set since before last year's album was even released. The group even tries rocking out on songs like the distortion-heavy "Canada," the loud and in-your-face blare of the morbid "Snowstorm," and the George Harrison-meets-Phil Spector "La La La Song." (I swear, somebody's been listening to 'All Things Must Pass'!) Mimi has very up close and personal moments with the songs "Tonight," "Point of Disgust" and the album drifts off into bliss with the delay-heavy "Shots and Ladders." 'Trust' may not get the band any airplay on commerical radio, a song in a TV ad, or the closing credits of a movie, but I can safely say it will make many people's top lists by the end of the year.

-- Jon Whitney


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