Low
Ones and Sixes


4.5
superb

Review

by oodlesofnoodles USER (9 Reviews)
September 13th, 2015 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Low is swimming in new waters, and reaching new depths.

Low have made a large departure from their previous works on "Ones and Sixes," with absolutely stunning results. Gone are the days of the band performing with one guitar, one bass, one snare and a cymbal. Instead, Low has welcomed electronic elements into their small family, and the new sounds have found a way to amplify that slow-core sound the band has been pumping out for over twenty years now. It’s apparent even on first listen that the new production -- thanks largely to BJ Burton’s (Dark Bird is Home, Megafaun) production cues -- transforms Low's sound into something new, yet still decidedly Low. The paradox formed in this album's wake makes "Ones and Sixes" the most interesting album from the small Minnesota band to date.

The songs often use the same repeating drum lines as backbones, sometimes to a fault. On "Congregation," you may want to enjoy the Massive Attack-esque piano work, but the repeating snare drum kit really detracts from the sound. Thankfully, it’s one of the few times on the album where there is a real rub between the musical elements. Frequently using a blown-out speaker "electronic-meets-lo-fi" sound, the new production elements fit right at home with Low’s usual formula; lead singers Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker’s unembellished vocals (and pretty bland lyrics) with intriguing chord progressions and slow to moderate tempos, which has been the band’s bread and butter for over 20 years now. However, this new direction has sparked a new life into the band that any long-time listener will appreciate. Textures and atmospheres appear everywhere on "Ones and Sixes," scratching itches you didn’t even know you had with powerful electronic distortion or whistling synths filling in the gaps.

Changes aside, "Ones and Sixes" would not be anything to write about if the songs weren’t good to begin with. In the album’s nearly 60 minute and 12 track run time, Low have crafted some of their strongest and most diverse songs in years. The songs are not too interesting lyrically, falling back on repeated lines and even resorting to cliches at some points. Which is unfortunate, but any shortcomings here are more than made up for with everything else. Full of valleys and peaks, upbeat melodies and crashing waves, the music is beautiful, and it’s a very rewarding listen from front to back. Tracks like lead single "No Comprende" will surprise listeners with the impressive cinematic changes around two thirds of the way into the song, and then "Landslide," lurking towards the end of the album, will bring longtime fans in with the incredible chord progressions and bare production, reminiscent of "The Curtain hits the Cast." These songs aren’t going to approach the Top 40 anytime soon, but would rather be played for listeners that want a somber, personal experience, which explains why the songs lend themselves to headphones so well.

"Ones and Sixes" show Low embracing a new element of their band, and with all of the tweaks to their sound it is finally so much easier to see what made listeners prick up their ears over 20 years ago when they first heard "I Could Live in Hope." Low is swimming in new waters, and reaching new depths; which ultimately creates a welcome addition to a band's already impressive catalog.



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user ratings (99)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
oodlesofnoodles
September 13th 2015


66 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Really difficult review to write, but holy crap this album is good. Could be an AOTY contender IMO, if this year wasn't already packed with great music...

KILL
September 13th 2015


81240 Comments


sweet

Jots
Staff Reviewer
September 13th 2015


7341 Comments


don't think band has been good since 2005

will read review in a bit

Cygnatti
September 13th 2015


35051 Comments


i'm interested

Sinternet
September 13th 2015


24125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is streaming on the Sub Pop youtube channel if anyones interested. It's good but I miss their earlier stuff.

Digging: Doss - 4 New Hit Songs

StarlessCore
September 14th 2015


7729 Comments


its not lifechanging or nothing, but this is easily their best in a decade

StarlessCore
September 14th 2015


7729 Comments


some of these songs r actually fairly LOWcore, some r just filler but its actually a rlly nice album, way better than the garbage they put out in 2013

DoofusWainwright
September 14th 2015


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

After my first spin have to say this sounds like some of their best work

StarlessCore
September 14th 2015


7729 Comments


ehhh idk abt that, but its very nice for the most part. the production and compositions are rlly great, huge improvement over the invisible gay

theres a few songs on this that im really, really diggin tho. the singles were dope and dj is gr8

StarlessCore
September 14th 2015


7729 Comments


these harmonies omg

Sinternet
September 14th 2015


24125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wouldn't say best in a decade, Drums and Guns was pretty sweet, but definitely better than their last two.

InfamousGrouse
September 15th 2015


4349 Comments


Will definitely check this

Artuma
September 19th 2015


32171 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album sounds pretty but it's not really memorable or touching

Digging: Altarage - Succumb

Artuma
September 19th 2015


32171 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

landslide is excellent though

scissorlocked
October 2nd 2015


3535 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah reviewer's rating is pretty generous



not a bad album though, but still feels a bit flat like invisible way



jtswope
December 17th 2015


5788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

What Part of Me is cool.

treeqt.
December 17th 2015


16970 Comments


album has some cool songs

Sinternet
December 17th 2015


24125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Landslide is still a nice track

dispid
June 20th 2017


48 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is album is just too fucking good. I really hope they continue with/expand upon this sound. "DJ" is just incredible, especially the ending.

NorthernSkylark
May 15th 2020


11321 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

an underrated album from the looks of it

Digging: The Necks - Unfold



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