Low – Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop)

There’s really no such thing as a bad Low album but Ones and Sixes is on the upside of masterful even by their own high standards.

In particular, the centre of the album features a sequence so sublime that it forms a captivating scene within a scene, a kind of mini album of power and grace and beauty in a series of unforgettable duets.

It starts with the gospel soul of ‘Spanish translation’, Alan’s lead vocal shadowed by a weightless Mimi but with a thrum of menace in the shape of squalls of feedback like thunder in the red heavens.

Mimi takes the lead on ‘Congregation’, an unexpected drum machine two step building a searching tone with pulse bass and layers of floating gospel harmonies.

‘No end’ has Alan up front pleading in a compelling soul belter with ringing guitar octaves.

Mimi comes back centre stage for ‘Into you’, an arrestingly intimate song that doesn’t need more than a put-putting bass drum and claves outside of her utterly plausible follow-her-to-the-ends-of-the-earth voice.

And to finish the run, ‘What part of me’, the crowning glory really, a fuzz guitar dream of four circling chords and two symmetrical vocal lines, a mutual song of praise and Mimi drifting above it with a moment of sighing “aw-aw” perfection – what part of me don’t you know, what part of me don’t you own.

There are 12 tracks in all but these 5 are hard to get past. Glorious and transcendant are overused terms (especially by me probably) but never were two words better suited to any band than the wonderful Low.


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