|04-16-2007, 08:13 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Low - Drums And Guns
I'm gonna make an attempt at an album review. I shall be reviewing Drums And Guns by Low, which came out on March 20th of this year.
So I've been a fan of Low for a while now. They're the only non-local band that I've managed to see live as well. They haven't really gotten much recognition during their career until they signed to Subpop records and then released their 7th full length studio album, The Great Destroyer, in 2005. That album was seen as kind of a departure from their previous work, most of
which was seen as being fairly slow and somber. The Great Destroyer had bunches of faster, more upbeat, "rock" songs. I see their newest album, Drums And Guns, as a return to the more somber songs of their earlier career, as well as a further departure from their previous style. In this album, Low decided to experiment a bit with electronics. This album is full of drum machines, which is, in some cases, a nice deviation from their usual two piece drum set up. This album however, remains distinctively Low. They go back to their signature glacial pace. They also have their signature vocals harmonies between band members Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. I thoroughly enjoy this mix of old and new. This album is probably one of their darkest albums yet. I like it that way.
First off, I must mention the album packaging. I enjoy the anti-jewel case approach on this. I don't remember what they call this kind of packaging, but I like it. And the paper that it's printed on smells so delicious! Anyway, the artwork is minimalist, which is cool and typical for Low. Each set of two pages just has a photo of some type of drum on one page and a photo of some type of gun on the other page. (I like the BOSS HC-2 handclapper pedal next to the hunting rifle, as well as the tambourine next to the pump shotgun.) Also in the packaging is a painting by Bridget Riversmith.
Since I already gave an overview of the album, I'll just do reviews track by track. I'll rate each out of 10, I suppose.
1. Pretty People (8/10) - This song is mostly just some background noise with some singing about people dying. After a little bit, some minimalist drums (floor tom and a snare) kick in at a slow pace. Once the singing stops, the noise keeps going with some floor tom going as well. This goes for a few seconds and starts to fade. I like it.
2. Belarus (8/10) - This song starts with what sounds like some looped singing, piano, and drums. Bass kicks in after a few seconds. After a few more seconds, some singing comes in with the beautiful harmonizing of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. After a verse, a violin loop gets added to the mix and the lyrics continue on. It ends with all the parts gone but some droning violins.
3. Breaker (10/10) - This song is their first single off this album. It was made available for download by the band sometime before the album came out. It starts out with a really sweet drum machine part going. After about 3 seconds or something, some clapping comes in. Then some droning organ chords go over that. Some vocals are then added as well. After a verse or so, a backwards guitar part comes in, and then after a bit of that the vocals continue over all that mix. The song ends with a lovely organ chord. Very good song.
4. Dragonfly (10/10) - This song starts out with some noise that goes through the whole song. Some almost "industrial" sounding drums kick in and continue throughout the song. Some subtle changes in the noise come and go throughout the song, as well as some more beautiful vocal harmonies. I really like this song a lot. It's one of my favourites off of this album.
5. Sandinista (10/10) - It starts with a nice simple, almost marching-like drum part that's repeated throughout the song. Some of the signature vocals harmonies kick in after that. Some ambient noise fades in an out throughout the song. Also a very good song.
6. Always Fade (8/10) - The song starts with a nice drum loop and a bass as well. From the beginning it is clear that this is one of the more upbeat sounding songs on the album. Of course, the vocals harmonies kick in. By then it's clear that the subject of the song isn't as upbeat as the song sounds. The key changes for the chorus. Some ambient noise once again fades in and out.
7. Dust On The Window (8/10) - This song fades in at the beginning with a minimalist drum and bass parts and a droning, noisy guitar part. The vocals kick in. This time it's just Mimi Parker singing the vocals. She overdubs her vocals to create a bit of vocal harmony with just her voice. It goes like this for a while, then the drums add some cymbals in as well and then it fades to an end. Probably one of the more boring songs on the album, but still pretty good.
8. Hatchet (8/10) - This is by far the most upbeat song on the album. Not only does it sound upbeat, but the lyrics are upbeat as well with lyrics like "let's bury the hatchet like the Beatles and the Stones." It starts out with a looped drum beat and a nice bassline comes in with some sparse (is that the right word in this case?) guitar work. The signature vocal harmonies come in after that, and it all ends on a happy note from the bass. This song is generally too upbeat for my tastes, but it's a nice change.
9. Your Poison (10/10) - This is one of my favourites off the album. I only wish it was a longer song, since it's only 1 minute and 13 seconds long. It starts out with just a whole bunch of overdubbed singing for a while. About 40 seconds into it the floor tom comes in, increasing in speed and volume, and then suddenly slows down to like 60 beats per minute and gives way to a classic Low sounding song, slowing down even more to the end. It's so great, yet so short.
10. Take Your Time (10/10) - This song starts out with some church bells and ambiance. Then a nice piano part comes in. Vocals from just Alan Sparhawk come in. A nice bassline comes and goes throughout the rest of the song after the first verse. This song is pretty depressing. I like it a lot.
11. In Silence (10/10) - This song starts with a nice echoey drum part. Some soft piano comes in as do the vocal harmonies. During the first chorus the drums and piano crescendo and drop off at the end of the chorus. The drums and piano crescendo even more for the second chorus and some more vocal harmonies are added, and then the song ends after the second chorus. Wonderful.
12. Murderer (10/10) - This is my favourite song off of the album. It starts out with some ambient noise probably from the guitar, then some drums and bass kick in at once at a fairly simple pattern for each of them. Alan Sparhawk starts singing and Mimi Parker does some additional singing as well. After the first verse a consistent drum roll gets added to the mix as well. It stops right before the second verse. The lyrics of this song are wonderful. I love this song so much. I'm pretty sure when I saw them play live, they played this song as well, although I wasn't really familiar with it at the time.
13. Violent Past (9/10) - The album starts out with a minimalist drum part and some organ chords. In the background some more noise is present. The vocals kick in after that. I don't feel like describing this song any further than is necessary because I'm getting sick of typing this.
Overall, this album is really good. I don't know if it's my favourite Low album, but it's definitely up there. I found it quite a bit better than The Great Destroyer, personally. I strongly recommend buying it. They're just a poor little band from Duluth, Minnesota. They could use your money. Also, if they're playing near you, check them out; they're even better live than on album. Overall, I probably give Drums And Guns by Low a 9 out of 10.
"No one likes a smart-ass but we all like stars."