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Drums and Guns by Low (Sub Pop)

War, or at least violence – political and otherwise – is clearly the unifying theme of Low’s eighth album proper. While last outing The Great Destroyer was atypical in rocking out more than the majority of the Duluth slowcore legends’ previous output, Drums and Guns is both back to basics and a further progression. The departure of long-time bassist Zak Sally, to be replaced by the less imposing Matt Livingston, sees the band’s first extended excursion into the use of techy beats and vocal loops. However, the overall impression is still familiarly stark, if somewhat more synthetic, despite the occasional injection of sly humour, via a cut like ‘Hatchet’.

Everyone has their own favourite among this singular band’s uncompromisingly intense and multi-layered back catalogue, be it Secret Name, Things We Lost In The Fire, or Trust, and it is difficult to know how committed fans will take to the new electronic incarnation of their special interest. But husband and wife Alan Sparhawk’s hauntingly angular guitar lines and Mimi Parker’s spine-chillingly ethereal voice remain constants, and should ensure a warm, if quizzical, reception.


First published in Magill, June 2007

 

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