Release Date: Jan 25, 2005
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Over the course of several albums this American trio have become synonymous with the infinitely slow, elegantly funereal subgenre unfortunately dubbed sadcore. But from the ominous, post-punkish pulse and clang of opener Monkey, to the decidedly punky frustration of Everybody's Song and the unapologetic riffing of California, The Great Destroyer pushes the band's sound on to thrilling new vistas. They can still be slow and sad (the lacerating, lonely strum of Death of a Salesman), and the harmonies of husband and wife Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk swell with reliable glory, but when The Great Destroyer rocks, it rocks with passion, rigour and an unmistakable but enormously dignified rage.
Over the years, Low have been on labels as diverse as Kranky and Virgin offshoot Vernon Yard, worked with distinctive producers like Kramer and Steve Albini, and have managed to adapt their sound without losing any of their identity. All of this applies to Great Destroyer, the band's first album for Sub Pop and their first collaboration with producer Dave Fridmann. Fridmann's detailed sound is a far cry from either Kramer or Albini's minimalist tendencies, but his work here shows that Low can sound as good in elaborate settings as they do in simple ones: "Monkey"'s intricate layers of distorted drums, organ, and guitar have an unusual depth, and the synth strings and heartbeat-like electronic drums on "Cue the Strings" just add to the intimacy and subtlety of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's harmonies.
Remember Low? In ’94 and ’95, when slack-jawed loser pathos and chunky distortion ruled the airwaves, Low was something special. Gentle, pristine vocals floated over minimal, half-speed dirges. The songs weren’t simply bummed about current circumstances – they were pervasively haunted by alternate possibilities, which make the day’s drudgery all the more humiliating, don’t you know.