Tugboat Records – 2001 – 53 minutes

In the wake of the widespread release of the sad, slow-mo carols of Low's 'Christmas' ep, comes Things We Lost in the Fire, perhaps their most beautiful album to date. If you're a Low fan already you’ll know what to expect: sublime harmonies, music that is simultaneously minimal, yet lush. If you're not, then you couldn't pick a better introduction to this Minnesota three-piece. Husband and wife team, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, together with bass player Zak Sally manage to be at one and the same time both sad and uplifting. Produced by celebrated noise-meister, Steve Albini, Low find space to shine and the strings and keyboards with which the album is liberally sprinkled manage to gild the lily, without overpowering it.

Although Low are noted for producing barely audible music, on this album they don’t shy from epic soaring gestures on songs such as 'Like a Forest' and 'Dinosaur Act'. You may initially to strain to hear the beginning of 'Whore' but the harmonies slowly slip into place as Parker's voice glides beautifully through a song more beautiful than its name would lead you to believe. Allowing you to hear echoes of bands such as Stereolab, Yo La Tengo and even the Beatles, this album richly rewards anyone with even a little time and patience to spend immersed in a richly textured landscape. If slow is the new fast, then these guys wrote the blueprint.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Sunflower - Whitetail - Dinosaur Act - Medicine - Magazines - Laser Beam - July - Embrace - Whore - Kind of Girl - Like A Forest - Closer - In Metal