Slow has always been a hallmark of Low’s distinct sound. On its latest album, Secret Name (Kranky), Low turns slow rhythms and drawn-out melodies into rich songs filled with melancholy and warmth.
Each of the 12 songs seems as fragile as intricate pieces of glass. The opening track, “I Remember,” is filled with a dark fuzz over which singer/guitarist Alan Sparhawk sings in a plaintive high-pitched tone. The next three songs, “Starfire,” “Two-Step,” and “Weight of Water,” are the core of the album. With its brooding orchestral background, “Starfire” is reminiscent of Galaxy 500. “Two-Step” and “Weight of Water” highlight drummer Mimi Parker’s beautiful voice and her ability to harmonize with Sparhawk.
Some of the other songs on the album take on a more country-tinge. “Immune” sounds like it could be played at some late-night honky-tonk joint. These hints of country music do not make Low a country band. Instead, they give many of the songs a sense of warmth that many of the band’s earlier works lack.
Some listeners may find a whole album of this kind of music too disheartening, but Low manages to make depression strangely uplifting. The band’s music is warm enough to keep the dark moods of its songs from slipping into teen angst. Secret Name is a perfect album for those nights when everything has gone wrong. When you want to be depressed and comforted at the same time.