Darr: The beautiful crush of Low’s ‘Double Negative’ offers avenue for individual coping


Low’s “Double Negative” (courtesy photo)

The hardest parts of life are faced alone, over and over again. Loneliness, anxiety, and self-doubt strike invisibly and consistently. Even when we reach out to others about our personal darkness, it can be difficult to believe that we are being understood.

This has to be why sad art is so powerful. It resonates with an intensity that matches our emotions, and it is always there for us. We can take it into the dark corners of our lives without fear of misunderstanding, desertion, or spreading our pain to others.

Legendary slowcore group Low exploits these phenomena to transcendental levels on “Double Negative.” Turning away from the soft, glacier-like guitar rock of their past, Low uses waves of pink distortion and pulsing percussion to instill their songs with a burning, almost frightening intensity. In such a context, the band’s signature soft male-female harmonies transform from a pretty melodic instrument into a ray of light among the sonic crush.

The sonic contrast is the perfect accompaniment for Low’s new lyrical focus: political division. While isolation and reflection have always been foci for the band, “Double Negative” engages with the alienating discourse between poles that connect the personal and social. “If your mind’s made up / Then there’s nothing left to say,” concludes “Poor Sucker,” a track that reframes political stubbornness as a drowning person diving deeper into a lake for air.

However, the despondence and anger of the record is universal rather than partisan. “Double Negative” wields melody and noise as an instrument of recreating the emotional crush of human isolation. Low has crafted a gorgeous record for individual coping. If we can heal alone, perhaps we can come together healthier another day.

Rating: 4.8/5