, "The Invisible Way" (Sub Pop)
The husband-and-wife team of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker form the core of the Duluth, Minn.-based group Low. Their latest studio album, "The Invisible Way," is a glorious culmination of 20 years spent honing a slow-tempo, melodious sound with arresting male-female harmonies and cerebral lyrics.
Produced by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and engineer/producer Tom Schick, the album's overall sonority is an almost mesmerizing union of sparse and lush —a dichotomy of sound similar to Radiohead's marriage of bombast and sublime.
Lugubrious and wistful, Low's music may come across as too melancholic for some. But while plumbing the infinite store of human sadness and broken-heartedness, Low does so with a poetry so rare in popular music, it's exhilarating.
The album begins with "Plastic Cup," a haunting, exceptional tune that references the affliction of substance abuse, replete with both irony and mourning.
"Just Make it Stop," sung by Parker, is absolutely gorgeous songwriting and the record's standout. It's gut-twistingly beautiful.
Listeners please note: There is beauty and soulful enrichment in melancholy. Take it in.