Low turns twenty-five in 2018. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker – the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s centre – have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favourites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, the duo releases its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fights for the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive ‘Quorum’. For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?
Note: The LP is available on indies-only crystal clear vinyl.