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Music Review Low-down on homeland insecurity

SUSAN DARLINGTON sees the US band address the state of a troubled nation

Low
Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

LOW may be about to celebrate 25 years as a band but as they gear up for the release of new album Double Negative in September there’s no sign of them mellowing.

The Duluth trio have treaded water for their last couple of albums, giving the impression that the best of their slow-core days are behind them. Yet, galvanised by the political turmoil in their US homeland, they’ve returned with a sound that’s dark and troubled.

The mood is set from the very start, with guitarist Alan Sparhawk intoning: “I’m tired of seeing things” on Quorum. Heavy bass notes, which make the venue’s fittings shudder, build around him and fracture into extended passages of distortion.

The sense of anger and imminent collapse is there too on closing number Fly, which ramps up the programming and loops that they experimented with on 2015’s Ones And Sixes. Drummer Mimi Parker’s vocals, the purity of which usually contrasts with the rawness of Sparhwak’s, are here brooding.

Even the numbers played from their back catalogue seem to have been selected specifically for their darkness. Pissing is a disordered exercise in restrained anger, with Sparhawk’s ragged squalls of guitar corralled by the repetitive solidity of the rhythm section, while Violent Past ranges between grungy sub-metal and deceptive calm.

The band seem to be in an uneasy place, with Sparhawk appearing on the point of breakdown when he laments that Donald Trump is due to visit his hometown. Their music is an uncomfortable reflection of the state of the world.

Low play Bristol, Manchester and Dublin in October, details: chairkickers.com

 

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