Low: Album Review and 2022 Tour Announcement

By: Samantha Eddy
Low performing in 2015. Photo Courtesy of LaespiraldeJosephK via Flickr.

Founded in 1993, Low is an American indie rock band from Duluth, Minnesota. Low (also presented as LOW) is made up of married members Alan Sparhawk (guitar and vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals). The band had four bassists in the past, but now do not have a bassist. So far, Low have released singles ‘Low’ (1995), ‘Transmission’ (1996), ‘Santa’s Coming Over’ (2008), ‘Stay’ (2013), ‘Some Hearts (at Christmas Time)’ (2016), ‘Let’s Stay Together’ (2018), ‘Fly (King Britt’s Fholston Paradigm Remix)’ (2019), ‘Mystery Train’ (2020), ‘Days Like These’ (2021), ‘Disappearing’ (2021), and ‘More’ (2021). They have released one EP titled The Exit Papers, with 6 tracks. Low has also released eighteen albums, with HEY WHAT being the most recent, released September 10th of this year. 

Low differs from other indie rock artists in that they are known for their “slow tempos and minimalist arrangements.” They’ve been compared to Bedhead for their slow core style, but the band has stated that they aren’t really a fan of that term for their music. Low has received many compliments on their vocal harmonies — one critic, Denise Sullivan, describes their vocals “as chilling as anything Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris ever conspired on – though that’s not to say it’s country-tinged, just straight from the heart.” 

Despite the pandemic causing a variety of concerns in the world right now, Low has managed to work around those issues and put together a new album, working with producer BJ Burton, for their fans titled HEY WHAT. Twenty-seven years later, Low has stuck with their original sound, making HEY WHAT all about “whispers of guitar and percussion,” describes Pitchfork, along with a lot more electronic noise than they have before. Low used deeper vocals than they have in the past for this album, which is part of what makes it such a powerful release. Pitchfork describes HEY WHAT as “more like a surge of information through a corroded terminal, or an electrical storm in the cavern between two earbuds.” 

Low performing in 2013. Photo Courtesy of Greg Scranton via Flickr.

Before the release of HEY WHAT, Low experimented with deep vocals, electronic sounds, and a lot of digital work to produce their previous album Double Negative. With HEY WHAT, Low take this new terrain to the next level, using increased distortion, abrupt transitions, and staccato pulses. Through this album, the band relays a message that darkness and light are inseparable. Pitchfork claims they are using this new language “to write a high-wire thriller.” HEY WHAT is composed of similar vocabulary to that of Low’s early 2000s albums, showing that they haven’t veered away from their original song crafting style. Pitchfork also beautifully describes the new album as “using minimalism to express the entwined pairing of intimacy and loneliness, searching for meaning in the rubble after a departure too catastrophic to address by name.”

Sparhawk, Low’s guitarist, says that his goal is offer “tension without release” through their music. He’s looking for a deep, continuous theme throughout the entirety of their music. That’s why HEY WHAT is full of so much chaos throughout the release, closing off with a somewhat uneasy, gathered finish. As Low continue to produce music and further their career and reputation, their music continues to increase in intensity and strength, pushing the limits of rock music. With HEY WHAT, Low seem to be redefining the limits of how rock music is “supposed” to sound and what it can amount to. Even after three decades of making music, the band claims they are still trying to find their sound. Nevertheless, Low continues to abide by their original message 30 years later: “Everything is falling apart, but hey, we’re in this together.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Parker states, “Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the marriage, for the family…we never would have survived this long as a band.” Sparhawk adds, “And it’s not to say ‘The band is just horrible, but we’re keeping it together because we’re married.’ But I think we were able to weather difficulties. We were able to have a certain kind of unified vision…despite being two different artists.” If that doesn’t sum up how powerful and talented this band is, then I don’t know what does. 

Low performing in 2013. Photo Courtesy of Greg Scranton via Flickr.

Along with the recent album release, Low have also announced their upcoming 2022 world tour, kicking off March 22ndin Bloomington, Indiana at the Bishop. Be sure to check out the tour dates and the HEY WHAT track list below!

HEY WHAT Track List:

  • 01 White Horses
  • 02 I Can Wait
  • 03 All Night
  • 04 Disappearing
  • 05 Hey
  • 06 Days Like These
  • 07 There’s a Comma After Still
  • 08 Don’t Walk Away
  • 09 More
  • 10 The Price You Pay (It Must Be Wearing Off)

2022 World Tour Dates:

March 22nd – Bloomington, IN – Bishop

March 25th – Birmingham, AL – Saturn

March 26th – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West

March 28th – Washington, D.C. – Miracle Theatre

March 29th – Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live

March 31st – New York, NY – Webster Hall

April 1st – Providence, RI – Columbus Theater

April 2nd – Montreal, Quebec – Theatre Fairmount

April 4th – Toronto, Ontario – The Axis Club

April 5th – Detroit, MI – Loving Touch

April 8th – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon

April 25th – Edinburgh, Scotland – Queen’s Hall

April 26th – Dublin, Ireland – Vicar Street

April 27th – Manchester, England – Manchester Cathedral

April 28th – Brighton, England – St. George’s Church Brighton

April 29th – London, England – St. John at Hackney Church

April 30th – Bristol, England – Trinity

May 2nd – Paris, France – Alhambra

May 3rd – Cologne, Germany – Kulturkirche Koln

May 4th – Antwerp, Belgium – TRIX

May 5th – Amsterdam, Netherland – Paradiso

May 6th – Aarhus, Denmark – Voxhall

May 7th – Copenhagen, Denmark – Vega

May 9thHamburg, Germany – Uebel & Gefahrlich

May 10th – Berlin, Germany – Festsaal Kreuzberg

May 11th – Vienna, Austria – Wuk

May 12th – Bologna, Italy – Teatro Duse

May 13th – Lausanne, Switzerland – Les Docks

May 14th – Zurich, Switzerland – Mascotte

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