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Low 

Trust (Kranky)

Wednesday, Oct 30 2002
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Since its inception in 1994, the slocore outfit Low has fashioned music that could easily put listeners to sleep, its spare instrumentation and long-sustained notes begging for a joint and a comfy chair. If those people did succumb to slumber, though, they would most likely have twitchy nightmares, as Low imbues its late-night lullabies with an emotionally jarring vibe, taking well-crafted pop songs and stretching them to the breaking point.

For its sixth album, Trust, Low -- Zak Sally on bass and keyboards and married Mormons Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk on drums and guitar, respectively -- maintains much of its chilly beauty, while upping the tempo on several songs. Unfortunately, the band also loses some of the songwriting momentum that it had gathered, both lyrically and melodically, through 2001's Things We Lost in the Fire.

Trust contains all the sonic details of the Duluth, Minn., group's past efforts: perfectly blended vocals from Sparhawk and Parker, calm and collected melodies, and creative instrumentation like bells and shattered glass. "Diamond" boasts a hymnlike vocal track and Parker's signature brushed drums, while "In the Drugs" features a stark, twangy guitar.

The threesome also branches out a bit, delivering downright energetic songs like "Canada," a growling guitar ditty redolent of early R.E.M., and "Snowstorm," a rolling number that sounds like a fusion of Joy Division and Christmas carols. "La La La Song" even features handclaps to accent lyrics like "Sometimes I could just choke myself with laughter." However, the dreary "(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace," the overlong "I Am the Lamb," and the tiresome "Candy Girl" feature flat melodies and repetitive lyrics. Though this album achieves some of Low's signature aching sound, as a whole Trust lacks the epic weightiness that made earlier efforts like Fire and Secret Name so compelling.

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Nancy Einhart

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