That other musical force from Duluth, Minnesota, Low has been making sparkling minimalist records since 1994, but with their new album, and ninth overall, C'mon, recorded in a former church in the North Star State, the spotlight is on the three-piece in a way they haven't felt before. That's what happens when none other than Robert Plant covers your songs, which he did for his Band of Joy album.
That's at least part of the reason they brought in Matt Beckley, who has worked with mainstream pop acts as varied as Ke$ha and Backstreet Boys, to co-produce the album, resulting in a fuller sound than on 2007's disappointing Drums and Guns. The songs still move at a pace that makes Galaxie 500 resemble Minor Threat by comparison, but singers Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker sound more determined, and more like Richard and Linda Thompson, than they have in some time. "Majesty/Magic," with Sparhawk on lead and Parker providing background vocals, begins as a chilly hymn before becoming a sonic anthem for the depressed, while "Done," on which Sparhawk sighs, "If you see my love, tell her I'm done," sounds like a response to "If You See Her, Say Hello."
It's a good thing they're such a commanding presence, too, because the lyrics leave much to be desired, unless you're a fan of the same line being repeated over and over again, for minutes on end. Like Minnesota itself, it's better to just absorb C'mon, rather than pay attention to the specifics. It's too underwhelming otherwise.