Album Reviews

Low – C’mon

Paul Jebara / April 18, 2011

Score: 8.5/10
Sub Pop
Purchase: Amazon

After a four-year hiatus, Low is back with a renewed perseverance to their signature slowcore interpretation of rock. In 2007, Minnesotans Alan Spearhawk and Mimi Parker gave us a critical reaction to the war in Iraq with Drums and Guns. For Low fans, it was foreign texture with faster tempos and vocals dominated by angst rather than tenderness. Thankfully, this married couple has restored the hush calm to their music with C’mon. Upon the first listen, the album feels indefinitely profound, with standout vocals that are hypnotic and incandescent. Each of the song is exceptionally intimate and pacifying, adequately soaked in a marinade of emotional splendor.

Joyous opener “Try to Sleep,” is a jingly and cheerful lullaby that will put you in a happier place than Ambien. While the song lacks the melancholy normally accepted from Low, it avoids crossing the frontier to pop. The lyrics are poetic and bright; “You stretch your wings/You take a breath/You hide you feet,” suggests a fitting comparison between the weightlessness of the dream world and a bird’s flight. While the closest thing to the absolute liberation of flight may be in a deep slumber, the song reiterates that one can never get enough sleep.

Don’t be fooled: joviality does not consume the tracklist. Most songs showcase glacial tempos and repetitive chord progressions where the ‘c’mon’ is more a gentle nudge then a motivational exclamation. “Majesty/Magic” begins with sparse guitar strums, unhurriedly adds a coat of woeful laments, and concludes with a loud chanting of “Oh majesty, oh magic,” supported by a sprawling rock orchestra. As the song unfolds, its volume and complexity grow proportionately. “Nothing But Heart” begins as a rain shower and ends as a downpour, but at 8 minutes long it is double the duration but among the album’s best.

Low reaches a new ‘high’ (pardon the knee-slapper) with “Especially Me,” a mellifluous folk-rock ballad with gorgeous string accompaniment and a Celtic feel due to the dominant minor chords. Parker’s voice couldn’t be more perfect, glistening like the moon’s reflection on the surface of a Minnesotan lake, her elegant vibrato undulating like gentle ripples. It is an organic and reassuring embrace of the everlasting uncertainty of love and life (“’Cause if we knew where we belong/there’d be no doubt where we’re from”). However, when all comes to an end, “we all need the truth.”

The truth here is that C’mon is a rewarding oeuvre, well worth the four-year wait. Certainly, this release will attract new fans. It is even more certain that longtime fans will fall in love all over again.

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