There are two reasons why Low have always dodged the loathsome ‘Christian rock’ tag. Firstly, they don’t have dreadlocks or six-string basses, preferring to glide on swells of glacial rhythms and the vocal harmonies of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. But more importantly, the Minnesotan husband-wife duo have never beaten their chests about their Mormon faith; theirs is to air veiled moral perplexities and dark aspersions that may or may not relate to Him upstairs. Of course, because despite ten studio LPs, countless collaborations and one or two documentaries, a level of mystique still hangs around Low, an achievement in itself these days.
It helps when you keep dishing out exquisitely crafted records every couple of years. Produced with precision and balance by Wilco head-honcho Jeff Tweedy, The Invisible Way is a sure-fire way to rid your corporeal form of all stress. The couple’s revolving door policy with ‘third men’ has lately produced Steve Garrington, who brings a comely vein of piano to the Low sound. Plaintive and powerful, ‘Amethyst’ is gorgeous aural Xanax, while the rich opening shuffle of ‘Plastic Cup’ has a bite under its typically arresting harmonies (“Maybe you should go out and write your own damn song / and move on”). The gentle hand-clap thump of ‘Clarence White’ underscores dexterous acoustic picks and Sparhawk’s warnings about being a “raging river” and a “destroying angel”. ‘On My Own’, meanwhile, begins jauntily before grinding to a discordant crawl of noisy guitars, key strikes and a ‘Happy Birthday’ choral refrain. It, or anything else here, is unlikely to soundtrack any actual birthday parties, but for those sensations that dwell somewhere between heaven and earth, Low provide the ultimate score.