The veteran group continue the scorched digital manipulations of 2018 masterpiece Double Negative, but their vocals are left pristine and beautiful
Low seemed a singular band from the outset. They were a married, practising Mormon couple, devoted to playing as quietly and slowly as possible, in the teeth of the early 90s grunge era. In fact, Low stood out so much that people felt obliged to invent a new subgenre to describe what they were doing: slowcore. It was a label the band disliked and quickly outgrew; it turned out they could move at quite a clip when it suited them.
Then, 25 years into their career, Low became more singular still. Their sound had always shifted and changed, occasionally in unpredictable directions, and electronic percussion had crept into 2015’s Ones and Sixes. But nothing could quite prepare listeners for 2018’s Double Negative, which took the kind of studio processes commonplace in modern mainstream pop – pitchshifted vocals, digital manipulation, the sidechain compression that causes the rhythm tracks on pop-dance hits to punch through everything else – cranked all of them up to 11 and applied them to a rock band. The end result was an album that genuinely sounded like nothing else. Low weren’t the only alt-rock artists thinking along roughly similar lines – Double Negative was produced by BJ Burton, who had worked on Bon Iver’s technology-fractured 22, A Million – but the sheer extremity with which the band’s sound was altered shifted Double Negative into a category of its own.