Low - The Invisible Way

They never were good with directions…

The 10th album from Duluth, Minnesota’s elder statesmen of elegant, doomy indie is something of a restrained step back from the stormy Crazy Horse-ism’s of 2011’s excellent C’Mon. This could be partly down to frontman Alan Sparhawk channelling his grungier energies into his Retribution Gospel Choir side project, though it’s equally likely to be a result of the calming influence of producer Jeff Tweedy of Wilco.

Under Tweedy’s guidance The Invisible Way showcases a strikingly sparse yet warm side to the group, with the emphasis on acoustic instrumentation. Opener Plastic Cup is classic, brooding Low, indicative of Sparhawk’s increasingly elusive approach to lyric-writing. Piano and acoustic guitar are the dominant musical forces here, used to subtly colour the singer’s lyrical tangents.

The most striking development this time around is a growing focus on Mimi Parker as lead vocalist. Yet
while it’s an interesting shift of
band dynamics, her voice can
be a little overpowering. Her
delivery dominates the
gorgeous, Roy Orbison-evoking
shimmer of So Blue, all but
killing the song; likewise on
the album’s most upbeat track
Just Make It Stop.

Seemingly incapable of
making a bad album, Low still
sound beautiful, but there’s a
nagging feeling that The
Invisible Way represents a
slight drop-off in focus. Still,
it’s a solid effort.

3 stars 3 stars 3 stars

Sub Pop | tbc

Reviewed by Jamie Atkins
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