Low
Things We Lost in the Fire


4.5
superb

Review

by Kiran EMERITUS
November 8th, 2007 | 83 replies | 15,039 views


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With eloquence that reflects the seasoned professionals they have become, Low create one of the most hauntingly beautiful records they have put out.

Hailing from Duluth, Minnesota, the same small city that gave the world Bob Dylan, married couple Alan Sparhawk (vocals and guitar) and Mimi Parker (vocals and drums), accompanied by Zak Sally (bass), are the 'slowcore' pioneers that is Low. On their sixth release, Things We Lost In The Fire, their spine chilling sound is at a definite peak, while staying true to the bands minimalist roots and featuring the beautiful duet of Sparhawk and Parker.

Low have made themselves known by their natural ability to create something out of nothing. Where many others would fail, they manage to create a subtle beauty out of just the bare minimum. Often, the most rewarding moments of the album come at the parts where the least is present, such as "Laser Beam", where Parkers solo vocals delicately hover above a soft guitar melody. In true minimalist fashion, not a single note is wasted. Every note is there for a specific reason and where there needs no accompaniment, there is none. Rather then overdo their sound with constant strings or drum backing, they prefer to let the songs build a powerful tension before releasing it in a subdued crescendo.

The lyrics are exemplified in "Like a Forest", with lines such as "I wasted my breath / On words soon forgotten / Left unattended / They're moving their feet / But nobody's dancing" sung over a melancholic violin and percussion accompaniment. Make no mistake, this album is dark. The solemnity of the album is what contributes to it's overall beauty however, as it makes you search for that glimmer of light in the darkness, that one hint of hope when everything seems bleak. Many of the songs possess a virgin-like innocence, naive in a way, yet beautiful all the same.

Stand-out tracks include "Sunflower" which opens the album with one of the best vocal duets on the album, with Parker and Sparhawk complimenting each other flawlessly over the constant snare beat. "Dinosaur Act" is the most up-tempo (but not really) song of the album and serves it's purpose well, creating one of the most hummable songs on the album with it's horn accompanied chorus, as Sparhawk and Parker sing in harmony. "Medicine Magazines" uses a distant piano and soft drumming to straight forwardly question the lifestyle of the entertainment industry, asking "How can it be that fun / When everyone around you / Dies so young?". "Whore" begins with Parkers lone falsetto before Sparhawk's lower voice joins in and the duo perform an exemplary vocal harmony. Sparhawk's distorted guitar makes itself known as he sings "What is the whore you're living for? / Is it so wrong to think there's more?". The album highlights come in the form of "Embrace", "Like a Forest" and "In Metal" however. "Embrace" starts with just the quivering vocals of Sparhawk, shortly followed by a lone violin. The song builds slowly as Sparhawks voice gains confidence and a guitar joins the vocalist and violin in the crescendo of the song. "Like a Forest" is one of the most instrumentally involved songs on the album. A single piano note, Parker's drumming, a dense string section, and Sparhawk's vocals all blend masterfully to create this poignant tune. "In Metal", the album closer, is the most heart-wrenching of them all. The song is about the couples baby (who can be heard squeaking in the song) and while partly disturbing, partly odd, and partly touching, Parker sings about how she wishes that she could capture the baby in metal, as to preserve it forever. It ranges from absolute bleakness, to a more melancholy ending, masterfully ending the record.

Straight to the point, Things We Lost In The Fire is one of the most spine chillingly beautiful albums I own. The vocal duets between Sparhaw and Parker are at their best, the minimalist yet flawlessly crafted compositions involving strings, piano, percussion and guitar are masterful, as well as the ever present creepy ambience, blended together, create the end product; something that is intimate, majestic and very moving.



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user ratings (144)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
br3ad_man
Emeritus
November 8th 2007



2125 Comments


Awesome album, about time someone reviewed it. Good review as well, but you didn't mention "Whore", which has one of the best vocal harmonies and prettiest melodies in their catalogue. For some reason I don't listen to this as much as other Low albums, even though it's one of their best. Probably because it's so depressing.

Kiran
Emeritus
November 9th 2007



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've only heard two Low albums, this and Long Division, and this is definately my favourite of the two. I may write a review for Long Division later, if I have the time.

And yeah, I'll edit a little bit about "Whore" into it in a bit, as well as "July", that was another stand out track that I totally forgot to include. Really, the only songs I wasn't that into were "Kind of Girl" and "Whitetail". They're not bad but they're not great imo.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

pulseczar
November 9th 2007



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is one of those rare albums that is really heavy emotionally, and slow to reveal itself, yet is paced perfectly. Nice writing, too.

NortherlyNanook
November 9th 2007



1285 Comments


Eheheheh. "Slowcore." I find hearing that to be rather funny, since the ultimate frisbee team I play on for my university is called "Slocore," due to the city's initials being SLO.

On a better note, nice review!

Kiran
Emeritus
November 9th 2007



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha, I find the term 'slowcore' absolutely terrible to be honest, but apparently that's what people have labeled this type of music as.

Also, thanks dudes. :D

Apocalyptic Raids
November 9th 2007



810 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I need some more Low, I've only got The Great Destroyer.

AtavanHalen
November 9th 2007



17927 Comments


Wow. If this doesn't convince someone to listen to this record, I don't know what will.

Great review. I really want to get this now.

Kiran
Emeritus
November 9th 2007



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Atavan. I adore this album and I think that really showed in the review. You should definitely give this a listen. It took a bit to grow on me but once it did the real impact of the music kicked in.

Kiran
Emeritus
November 9th 2007



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh, and yah, added "Whore" bit.

kalkal50
November 9th 2007



2386 Comments


This is a really good, eloquently written review, and hopefully I'll have more luck finding this.

Yyy
November 9th 2007



289 Comments


long division is better

Kiran
Emeritus
November 9th 2007



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks kal.

also, long division was in between 4 and 4.5 for me, so I gave it a strong 4, it'll probably go up. 'Throw Out the Line', 'Below & Above' and 'Caroline' are such awesome songs.This Message Edited On 11.09.07

Kiran
Emeritus
September 28th 2008



6001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Been listening to this again recently and omg I love it so much

AtavanHalen
September 28th 2008



17927 Comments


I can't believe I still haven't got this.

YouAreMySilence
July 7th 2009



3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is what I have been looking for! Listening through this for the first time and it could be 5 material.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
July 7th 2009



15730 Comments


long division was so boring i cant imagine this being all that good

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

YouAreMySilence
July 7th 2009



3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You might enjoy this. It's kind of like the Antler's newest release except quite abit darker and bleaker.

CompanionCube
November 9th 2009



977 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is so good...

Lions
November 9th 2009



1015 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that's true! just got this; it's lovely.

Ponton
Emeritus
March 29th 2010



5790 Comments


oh wow sunflower



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