Low
Drums and Guns


4.0
excellent

Review

by br3ad_man EMERITUS
March 14th, 2007 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Brutally sparse and emotional, Drums and Guns is a more difficult album than Low fans will have become accustomed to. Regardless, it's the best thing they've done since Things We Lost in the Fire.

Drums and Guns, the eighth full-length (and second for Sub Pop) from Minnesota trio Low opens with the following words; "All the soldiers, they're all gonna die/All the little babies, they're all gonna die". Make no mistake about it, Drums and Guns is a real downer. Like their last album, The Great Destroyer, Drums and Guns was produced by Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips). Unlike The Great Destroyer, however, Drums and Guns sees Low returning to their minimalist roots while still breaking new ground. The Great Destroyer was a wildly varied record (especially by Low standards) that made use of a number of different textures and song structures. Drums and Guns continues this policy of trying new things, but sounds far different to anything that The Great Destroyer offered.

The album's 13 cuts consist of different experiments in minimalism that range from drum machines, organs, strings, uneasy droning noise, looped vocals, Radiohead-esque piano and the usual drums, guitars, bass and sparse vocal harmonies. It's this 'try anything' approach, along with its extremely dark nature that makes Drums and Guns a difficult album and one that will undoubtedly take some time to grow on the ears of fans. The cold, electronic minimalism of a number of the album's tracks often sounds mechanical; more like Thom Yorke's The Eraser than the warm softness of such classic records as Long Division. However, there's also a real human quality to the album, due in no small part to the gorgeous harmonies that have become trademark to Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. This is also reflected in the album's artwork, which features a number of unprofessional looking photos of, unsurprisingly, drums and guns that are placed against the same simple backgrounds of red carpet and a brown floor.

As hinted at by its title, Drums and Guns is a pretty bleak record. When he utters the first words of the album over the top of a drone of noise, Alan Sparhawk sounds like a man in a calm distress. The war theme, prevalent throughout the album's 13 tracks is most prominent on "Pretty People" (the opener) and "In Silence" ("They thought the desert would divide us"). One track on, "Murderer" is a deeply disturbing story about exactly what its title suggests. "One more thing I'll ask you Lord/You made me a murderer/Someone to do your dirty work" Sparhawk sings over the top of a haunting, but achingly beautiful backing of sustained bass, cautiously restrained drums and slowly shifting e-bow notes. Probably the album's most conventional track and least depressing, "Hatchet" is an off-beat love song that recalls sparse indie bands such as The Kills. Finally, the album's closer, "Violent Past" is easily its most lush, with a distorted organ backed by a spare but atmospheric loop. More uplifting than the majority of other tracks, Sparhawk concludes "All I can do is fight". Only when the song fades out amidst a background of quiet noise is the impact of Drums and Guns fully realised.

Eight albums into their career, Low certainly aren't slowing down. Drums and Guns is vastly different from any of Low's earlier work. At times, it can be a difficult piece of work and its dark themes may require a few spins to grow on the listener. Irrespective, Drums and Guns is a fine piece of work, Low's best since Things We Lost in the Fire. Its 13 songs are extremely hard to fault and the emotion present throughout the record is inarguably intense. It may be a downer, but it will almost certainly prevail as one of Low's finest and proudest moments.

Pros
Interesting arrangements
Deeply emotional
Not a bad song on the album

Cons
Can be a difficult record
The depressing nature of the album may alienate some listeners

Recommended Tracks
Belarus
Hatchet
Your Poison
Murderer

Final Rating: 4/5



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user ratings (106)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
March 14th 2007


2647 Comments


I've listened to a few Low tracks before and wasn't impressed. The bleakness that you mentioned in the review didn't grab me like I was hoping it to.

Sepstrup
March 14th 2007


1567 Comments


This sounds like something I would enjoy. Very nice review.

AlienEater
March 14th 2007


716 Comments


which is their best album

pixiesfanyo
March 14th 2007


1223 Comments


Things We Lost In The Fire.

This is good. And great review br3ad =]

The Jungler
March 16th 2007


4826 Comments


Excellent review. I have no Low, but I kinda want some.

whatwasthatfor
March 24th 2007


4 Comments


Belarus is an excellent track.

La Revolucion
May 21st 2007


1060 Comments


This is a great album. Nice change for them.

Two-Headed Boy
July 2nd 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

They were excellent when they opened for Wilco.

pulseczar
July 2nd 2007


2385 Comments


The vocal pairing Low have fits their music beautifully. This is on my to get list.

Doppelganger
September 27th 2008


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album rules, first Low album I've heard that I've really dug. Didn't know Retribution Gospel Choir's "Breaker" was a rock version of this original.

Doppelganger
October 1st 2008


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

okay this album is criminally overlooked on this site

Kiran
Emeritus
October 1st 2008


6104 Comments


Low in general is criminally overlooked on this site!

br3ad_man
Emeritus
October 1st 2008


2126 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of the best bands ever imo.

YouAreMySilence
August 29th 2009


3726 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Muderer is insane.

I really hope they put out some more material soon.

stabbler
March 17th 2012


1495 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

favourite Low album...by a fair way

ApplicationToHeaven
February 25th 2013


1566 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

so much filler

Gyromania
January 28th 2015


32380 Comments


violent past < 3

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2021


1174 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Up there with my favourite Low albums. Murderer is the track that got me into them, what a stunning song

Digging: Joseph Shabason - The Fellowship

Pajolero
March 26th 2021


1167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Might be my favorite ever Low record



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