Low – The Invisible Way album review

Low has been together for twenty years now. That’s something in itself. Many marriages don’t last that long these days. The Invisible Way is their tenth album featuring the vocal harmonies of husband and wife duo Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. (See what I did there?) This is just a personal thing, but I’ve always had an admiration for individuals who could sing and play drums at the same time. There is a slight amount of vibrato that would naturally occur from hitting drums while trying to hold notes, but Parker keeps this under control to a surprising degree. That being said, the drumming is highly simplistic. It makes Meg White look good. Not a joke. But Mimi Parker’s vocal capabilities justify the simplicity. You can’t have it all, and with that in mind, you would much rather have the vocal aptitude than the ability to rock out on the drums in a song that runs at 40 beats per minute.

The band aims for arrangement minimalism and instead focuses on their vocal harmonies. Parker’s drum setup is one tom, one snare and two cymbals. (This is an actual evolution from her initial setup of one tom and one cymbal) Tempos rarely push past eighty-five BPM, and mostly hover in a slow and comfy fifty to sixty-five BPM. This I’m sure is to allow Parker to have a good vocal tone. It would be arguable that the simplified drum set that allows her to stand, (creating better posture for singing) is equally correlated with her focus on vocals. 

The Invisible Way not groundbreaking. It caters to Low’s powerhouse attributes, but in a minimalist sense, this is ideal. All the interesting moments are hidden in the textures. A major second will shine through for a beat or two and fade away. It grabs you, but is not insistent. Its very polite about it. You probably won’t have a whole lot of people jumping up and down when a Low track comes on, but I think you will have a very difficult time finding an individual who object to listening to Low. It is nearly incapable of being offensive to the ear. If you see them live, they will be able to reproduce the album experience perfectly. Some songs like “Just Make It Stop” might lack the three part female vocal harmonies, but other great songs like “Plastic Cup” will be sure to please. 

By Eric Wong

Eric is a writer from San Francisco. Being Asian, he was forcibly inducted into classical music and choirs at a young age. So clearly, he knows what he's talking about.

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