(Photo Credit - Shelly Mosman)
We had the opportunity to conduct an advance review of Low's new album Double Negative (Special thank you to Sub Pop!) The album drops this Friday, September 14! What we found was a mind bending album full of abstract songs and alt songs dealing with themes of negativity such as war, evil spirits, etc. The songs are full of Easter Eggs off what is to come so listen with a sharp ear and check out our review!
1. Quorum - Instrumental with lots of effects at first, before vocals with heavy effects come in. Reminds of us a B-Side Radiohead song which isn't a bad thing. The beat to the song is fun. It finally clears for a beautiful melody halfway through the track for a verse before cutting to the distorted beat. Despite the effects, melody is there, and the vocals
continue clearer for the rest track and end as suddenly as it began. The song puts the listener on edge, intentionally we believe, with the melody that is highly digitized and lyrics like "I'm tired of seeing things, you put away the book, what are you waiting for?" An intriguing way to start the album!
2. Dancing and Blood - Heavy pulsing beat, similar to the last track, minus the heavy digitization. This beat literally works the left and right side of the listeners ears. The digitized vocals come in soon after and they are good. This
song feels a bit dark as well, which we can dig. Female vocals come through clearer and remind us of a solo in a choir almost. Keys join soon after as well, playing a line with a lot of minors in it. This track easily comps to a Nine Inch Nails song musically. We love the mashup of the music and the vocal style, as well as the consistent drum beat that beats like a heart throughout the entirety of the song.
The song seems like it is ending, but it's only halfway over, as the track is over 6 minutes long! This song has movements, which is great. We've moved to a mostly effects-driven vocal loop section that is haunting. Three layers at work here, one low, medium, and high level of vocals that as they go seem to be building. Just as it seems like the next movement is about to begin, the track ends! This track is really an exploration of abstraction in music, one that we realize may not be for everyone, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.
3. Fly - Continues the vocal loops from the last track, while folding in keys and percussion. This song comps heavily to Radiohead's Amnesiac album musically. Female vocals come in elevated above the music, but accompanied by keys. This track is a bit more of a traditional alt track compared to the other two. The melody is again haunting, but beautiful. The bass line in this song is fantastic as well and really is the backbone of the rhythm pushing the synth.
4. Tempest - With this track another obvious comp that comes to mind we have been missing here is David Lynch. These tracks sound like something that would play in the Black Lodge (in a totally cool way). We again have a steady electronic beat here and heavily digitized vocals, with a strong foreboding feel in the track. Guitar slowly creeps into the song and the vocals begin to clear up, a theme throughout the album thus far. Synth comes in to lay down the ambient tones. The song begins to build up, and we get a deep bass swell that is great.
5. Always Up - A song chock full of wonderful electronic melodies, beautiful harmonized vocals, and a steady beat. This track is probably the least abstract of all of the songs thus far, that's fine its still on theme and still fits within the whole of the album.
6. Always Trying to Work It - This song blends the effects driven vocals of the first half, but is again more along the lines of a traditional alt song and not so abstract. The song seems to deal with two individuals that had some type of relationship in the past that is now strained. One feels that they can no longer approach the other in simple conversation as in the past. The narrator regretfully instructs the listener to "always try to work it out" perhaps as a lesson learned from the loss of this interpersonal relationship?
7. The Son, The Sun - This track is a change of pace track, which features mostly looped instruments and vocals. The song calls back to the more abstract beginning of the album, perhaps an indicator of things to come.
8. Dancing and Fire - Guitars and vocals here in a traditional alt sense. Lyrically a very interesting but dark song, with lyrics like "It's not the end, it's just the end of hope". The song also discusses everything being incinerated in fire in some sort of struggle or war. The hook on this track is fantastic with great vocals and guitar-work and ambient tones that take a back seat to let the vocals shine (rightfully so, they are fantastic here).
9. Poor Sucker - Seems to have a slow burn to the track the entire time with electronic instrumentals and pounding percussion. Just as we reach the end of the track and it seems we have hit the payoff we hear the beginning of some haunting vocals come and quickly cut off almost like a jump scare in a horror movie. Low is just having a ball on this album it seems.
10. Rome Always in the Dark - The jump scare continues into the word "Rome" in the fantastic track that again features just amazing melodies and percussion. The vocals here are top notch as well. The beat almost feels like war drums. This song feels so epic in scale, that it would be amazing to hear live or even in a loud venue over speakers.
11. Disarray - Disarray continues where the previous track left of musically but shifts quickly, a trope that Low seem to be quite fond of on this album. While this song is abstract as many on this album are, it is much more alt than the initial tracks. There are full-on beautiful harmonies on display here, along with a solid beat that holds the song together throughout. Even though Low does quite a bit with abstraction, they never find themselves in the weeds with song structure, they are pros at this.
Closing Thoughts - This album begins way off in the abstract, but seems to climb a level toward more traditional alt with each song, we feel that is an underlying theme. Negative themes of war, brooding music, and evil spirits were also present throughout the album, which we think is pretty fun. Again there are some who won't be open to the more abstract stuff at the beginning, I would urge those people to give it a chance, there's a lot thematically that ties in together. The album is like one giant Easter egg of itself, it's simply fantastic.
Rating - 4/5