In many ways, Low were ahead of their time. Their restrained sound might not have fit into the grunge-influenced nineties or rock-revival first decade of this century, but by now the world has caught up to beauty, quiet, and slowness. Unfortunately, this meant that suddenly Low went from being ahead of the curve to old hat – everyone’s got synthesizers, and after 2005’s great Great Destroyer, the veteran group started to repeat themselves a bit with 2007’s Drums and Guns (QRO review) and particularly 2011’s C’mon (QRO review). But they’ve since caught-up with the catch-ups, on 2013’s The Invisible Way (QRO review) and definitely with Ones and Sixes.
Ones and Sixes is another slow Low album, with minimalist elements but also grandeur, making for a full, if ominous and tragic, experience. The album creates an environment from the start with “Gentle” to the beauty in finish “DJ”, but is not one-note. There is pressure to “No Comprende” and “Kid In the Corner”, epic loss on “Spanish Translation” (QRO photos of Low in Spain), but also wistful country with “Into You” and the band even does sweet pop well in “What Part of Me”. There is also some strong lyrics, like “All you innocents / Make a run for it” on “The Innocents”, and the songwriter’s storytelling to “Lies”.
A band that’s been around as long as Low is going to have ups and downs [pun avoided]. Ones and Sixes is a new high.