As someone who loved Low’s last album but is only vaguely familiar with their extensive back catalogue, I’ve spent the week trying to play catch up as much as possible in anticipation of their new LP HEY WHAT which arrived today in all its melancholy, distorted glory. It’s been quite a week, and while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend piling through that much Low at once (the darkness! the depths!), it’s been interesting to trace the developments of their 20+ year career in just a few sittings. As a fairly new fan, I certainly don’t have any authority in ranking these things, but also: HEY WHAT is categorically their best album, and Hey is its emotional zenith.
I’ve listened to Days Like These maybe a dozen times now, and I’m still not even sure if I like the first half of it. Alan Sparhawk’s vocal is more prominent than perhaps ever before, accompanied by Mimi Parker’s harmonies and very little else and it’s almost wilfully OTT and (whisper it) a bit cheesy? Maybe that’s the point, and there’s a good chance that later this year after sitting with it for longer and reading more into the meaning behind it I’ll realise just how wrong I am, but that’s where I am right now. What isn’t in doubt however, is the second half, which is one of the best things they’ve ever made.
Produced again by BJ Burton who worked with them on 2018’s incredible Double Negative, it descends into warped static, freewheeling, ethereal harmonies and an atmosphere so thick with longing it takes a good few minutes to pull yourself out of it. It’s also the lead single from their forthcoming new LP Hey What, out 10 September on Sub Pop. Bring on the heartache.