Music

Low - "What Part of Me" (Singles Going Steady)

Photo: Zoran Orlic

Low's latest album, Ones and Sixes, is scheduled to release on September 11th via Sub Pop Records and it was recorded at Justin Vernon's April Base Studios in Wisconsin.

As befits a band of their stature and longevity, Low's 11th album Ones and Sixes is shaping up to be a deep and subtle look at Big Subjects like commitment and mortality. Unlike the pummeling bleakness of "No Comprendre", the first song they released from the record, "What Part of Me" blends the big scary stuff inherent in talking about being with another person forever with the sweetness such commitments also require. The thick keyboards, plaintive lyrics and, especially the rich harmonies between Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk combine to give the song a warmth and beauty that is somehow deeply reassuring. Low may not do feel-good summer songs but this is, at the very least, a summer jam for a rainy day. -- JOHN M. TRYNESKI (7/10)

What part of Low don’t we know? It’s an appropriate question for a 20-plus-year-old band to ask. Here is not the Low we don’t know, it’s a familiar version. Status quo Low. Low homeostasis is a fine place to abide, even if it’s easy and perhaps appropriate to ignore. “Just Make It Stop” from Low’s last album The Invisible Way, came out right after the Sandy Hook shooting took place about 20 miles from my home. At that juncture, a familiar but appropriately forlorn Low was what I needed and they had a sensationally moving version of this drop at just the right time. “What Part of Me” drifts in on a buzz of fuzz and rides out on a gentle coo, the world no more affected by its existence. A brief narco-haze of lite-feels, perhaps. Something that’s available, but inessential. Did Alan Sparhawk say, “It’s one hundred degrees-ing out here”? Throw an extra point on for that. -- TIMOTHY GABRIELE (5/10)

Low used to show expertise in "tundra music", creating long, cold plateaus of sound where songs were slowly built from the ground up. Some structures were sturdier than others, but as time has progressed, and especially in recent years, Low's discography has had more slivers of sunlight than ever before. 2011's C'mon wasn't so much a reinvention as it was a strong reintroduction, and especially following the coy miracle that was 2013's The Invisible Way, Low have finally let their guard down and let that sunshine in, the band fully relenting to the pop instincts we've always known they've had in them. The stark, basement-DIY embers of "What Part of Me" burn slowly, it's buoyant lead vocals giving a richness that belies that simple drum machine backing, making for what is arguably the most joyous song we've yet heard from the slowcore posterband. -- EVAN SAWDEY (8/10)

There’s a slight air of ‘80s melancholia going on in this minimalistic electro pop lament, yet it’s also quite modern, with shades of the Cure, the Flaming Lips, and the Pixies. It’s a bit too stagnant and simple for my tastes, as its sentiment deserves a more interesting and varied arrangement, but the vocals are wonderfully luscious yet fragile. Best of all, the male/female duality definitely makes it more profound and interesting. Fans of the style will dig it. -- JORDAN BLUM (7/10)

Low is one of those bands I’ve been itching to get into for ages, this song was so good, so catchy and exactly in my wheelhouse that I went out and bought every album of theirs I could find. I’ve listened to this sucker at least five times. It’s so good, so catchy, it’s everything I love about music. -- ANDREW CROWLEY (10/10)

I'm always looking for new descriptors to assign to Low's music besides the typical adjectives, e.g., slow, contemplative, atmospheric, etc. etc. Low deserve much more than what we give them and that includes our attention spans. The second single to debut, "What Part of Me" lacks the quiet ferocity of the first single "No Comprende", but is no less powerful for simmering anger it harbors. The track is just over three minutes, but it feels like one minute at best. It's gone before you can wrap your head around it. And for a trio of polite Mid-Westerners, Low have some demons buried deep in the ground -- demons that come through in the clipped, elliptical drumming of Mimi Parker and the way she floats her voice like a spirit around husband Alan Sparhawk's vocal delivery. "What Part of Me" could be about fear, disillusion, or a crisis of faith. Or it could be sprightly pop single about hot weather ("it's a hundred degrees out here"). Given the band's inclination for muted drama in their music. I'll go with one of the former. Or the latter. I never know. That's Low's greatest quality: the ability to stun and surprise after 20 years of music. -- SCOTT ELINGBURG (7/10)

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