Ones and Sixes
Sep 08, 2015 Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk and their bassist (Steve Garrington has served in the role since 2011) have long been making only two kinds of records; completely essential, passionate, cohesive and cogent statements, or those that are merely excellent and serve as a nice collection of tunes. In the former camp, think Things We Lost in the Fire's elegiac culmination of their initial years as slowcore progenitors, The Great Destroyer's Dave Fridmann-led fury, or Drums and Guns' war outrage made pretty and unsettling (and repeated effectively at the infamous "Drone, not drones" one-song set at the 2013 Walker Art Center Rock the Garden). The latter group would contain, let's say, Trust's water-treading in Fire's wake, C'mon, and its overcorrection after the aforementioned Fridmann fury, and Ones and Sixes, Low's twelfth full-length (or eleventh, depending on whether you consider Songs For a Dead Pilot an EP), another nice collection of tunes that lacks the urgency of their essential work but still comes with plenty to recommend.
Part of what made 2013's Jeff Tweedy-produced The Invisible Way a late-career highlight, in addition to some of their best songs in over a decade, was a pleasingly organic touch overall, and specifically the subtle piano added as Garrington seemed to assert a greater presence. Both of those are largely missing here; "Gentle," "Congregation," and "Into You" are awash in electro-percussion (don't take those sticks out of Parker's hands-ever) and what keyboards are here are highly treated ("Gentle" again) or of the synth variety ("Spanish Translation"). But like Low's other inessential records, most of these tracks are melodically sound and often as moving as their best moments (the crunchy "No Comprende" would belong on a career-spanning mix, for example). It's probably not possible for Low to ever make a bad record (Parker and Sparhawk sing together here with preternatural beauty, as ever), but Ones and Sixes isn't the place to start. Or finish. (www.chairkickers.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
Average reader rating: 8/10
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