PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Lowell: We Loved Her Dearly

Photo: Norman Wong

If We Loved Her Dearly is any indication, Lowell has simply run out of material, if not ideas, musical or otherwise.


We Loved Her Dearly

Label: Arts & Crafts
US Release Date: 2014-09-16
UK Release Date: 2014-09-16
Label website

Canada's Lowell is debatably better known in Europe than she is on her home turf. She was a member of the supergroup Apparatjik, which featured members of Coldplay, Mew and a-ha, and she performed with them as a headliner at the 2012 Roskilde Festival in front of 60,000 people. Conversely, when she played an arts festival in Ottawa, Canada, this past August, her name was on the posters promoting the event in teeny, tiny type – beneath Ottawa acts who don't have the international reach that Lowell arguably does. So Lowell has to work to become as much of a quantity in the New World as she is in the Old World. We Loved Her Dearly, her debut full-length album following an EP, I Killed Sara V., that was released earlier this year, would considerably be the natural calling card to introduce her to a much wider audience. A pity, then, that it falls quite a bit flat. Make no mistake: Lowell has talent, and she sticks true to her musical vision (as evidenced by the fact that she scrapped a bunch of songs that she wrote with a group of music industry movers and shakers in London, England). She also sings freely about women's issues and issues of sexuality, which is a huge plus – the world definitely needs strong women to offer strong voices in the pop and rock landscape, especially when it is so dominated by men. (As a point, how many women compared to men are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? According to a 2011 Salon article, women make up only about a paltry less than 15 percent of the Hall's membership.) However, We Loved Her Dearly is a major disappointment, for a number of key reasons.

The biggest issue with the disc is one of redundancy. Five of its 12 tracks already appeared on the I Killed Sara V. EP, which, if you’re keeping score, is all five songs from that collection. Now, if you bought the EP on iTunes, you can top up the release without having to buy those five songs all over again. Apparently, many artists, including Lorde, are doing this. And I can’t find evidence that the EP was issued in a physical format, which means that if you buy this album in the physical world, you won’t be paying for it all over again. This is all part of a marketing strategy to introduce a developing artist to the public. However, it is telling that these five songs are among the best cuts on the full-length. I’m scratching my head here. Why not issue another EP in this case of new material? Well, the answer again may lie in the fact that the remaining seven songs are generally weaker. It distresses me to write this, as someone who generally liked the I Killed Sara V. EP, but there it is. And it’s not as though the songs have been remixed or fussed with in any way: they’re exactly the same, right down to the runtimes. So this is a source of frustration with We Loved Her Dearly. The biggest pleasure comes from songs that have already been previously released. And while these might be good songs – “The Bells” is about as great as any song released in Canada this past year, and, it turns out, it still is – the marketing strategy is questionably a bit suspect.

What, then, of the new material? Well, the album kicks off with "Words Were the Wars", which sees Lowell trying on her best Björk impersonation with her childlike vocals. However, the song runs a good six and a half minutes – a minute longer than it needs to be – and is icy and cold, backed only with a shaker of percussion. "Summertime" is a glistening piano ballad that shows that Lowell has been directly influenced by working with someone in Coldplay. If you like Coldplay, you'll like the song. If not ... enough said. "The Sun" might be the biggest misstep of the new material, as it features Lowell cooing against what appears to be a discordant sample full of vinyl scratchiness. This may sound strange, but it kind of resembles Sparklehorse around the It's a Wonderful Life period, but it still doesn't really work as the experimentation gets away on Lowell. The disc's most notable moment may come with "LGBT", which is, of course, an anthem for queer culture ("Don't take your misery out on me, I'm happy and free," sings Lowell). However, the song really lacks bite – "Don't hate our love" goes the refrain, which seems vaguely simplistic. Considering that the Westboro Baptist Church is out there preferring that God send a few lightning bolts down to those who are homosexual and all, it's a shame that Lowell doesn't trade a few heavily veiled barbs back rather than try to preach about sexual tolerance, which is naturally talking to the already converted. Just sayin'.

When all is said and done, I’m crushed by We Loved Her Dearly, which sees the goodwill that Lowell earned with her earlier EP evaporate and leave the building. By introducing her best songs first, and then issuing them again on an album with generally weaker material, it is as though her best ideas and songs may already be behind her, which is not the impression you want to leave on your debut full-length. Lowell is an important Canadian act. She deserves to be heard and find a wide audience, whether it is at home or abroad. I love that she talks about the experience of being a woman and gets into sexual politics, which is something that the world certainly needs more of. However, the impact of this full-length is blunted. Rather than reaffirm Lowell’s status as an emerging artist, it just recycles material, which speaks more to the marketing plan than the songs. Perhaps the record would have been better if Lowell did, indeed, reuse the tracks from her EP, but just remixed them and changed them up a bit. Perhaps the record would have been better still if she only took a song or two from the EP and represented it on her debut LP, and didn’t reuse the whole thing. However, Lowell sings here that “I’m walking in circles” on “Tell Me What You Want Me to Do”, one of the new songs here. One thing is for certain: Lowell needs a better marketing plan if she still wants to be playing to crowds of 60,000 people. If We Loved Her Dearly is any indication, Lowell has simply run out of material, if not ideas, musical or otherwise.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.