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Slow And Steady Wins The Race

Secret Name

Low is one of those groups who has been around for many years (their first release was back in 1994) creating a steady flow (at least one full-length album a year, plus EPs) of music that has found a smaller, but devoted fanbase. With three members and a sound that falls into the "slowcore" category (with its slow and stripped-down quality), it's definitely not music that you can bounce along to, but that's not really the point anyway. Hailing from Duluth, Minnesota, their music has been described by many (and I'll do it here again) as the perfect accompaniment to a snow swept landscape. It's stark and minimal, but much of the time very beautiful.

Despite adding a few new elements and trying a couple different things, Secret Name still has much of the same feel that Low has come to develop over the past 5 years. The disc starts out with the very drear "I Remember," accompanied only by a bit of sparse guitar and drums, as well as a bit of droning keyboard and what sounds like radio static. With only a touch of vocals by Alan Sparhawk, it meanders along before the album changes up on the very next song "Starfire." Although it's definitely not bubbly, the two-part vocals by Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, as well as the musical arrangement, make it a track that you could hum along with. "Two-Step" and "Weight Of Water" are rather classic sounding tracks by the group, before the shimmering "Missouri" (pronounced "misery").

The album changes up a bit with the long, droning intro of "Don't Understand." Like the first track, the group uses more of a noise element to lead into the track before things actually kick off, and it only adds to things once the funeral march of a song starts moving. Following right on the heels of that track is perhaps one of the most beautiful tracks that the group has done in "Soon." Although the track begins with only an acoustic guitar and vocals by Sparhawk, it builds into a flourish of shimmering cymbals and a weeping string section.

The album doesn't weaken at all in it's final third, either. "Lion/Lamb" augments the sound of the group with more strings and a nice piano arrangement while "Will The Night" takes a full-on strings approach and almost sounds like a lullaby. The album closes out with the dark bass rumblings and eerie chimes in "Home," but it's strangely uplifting, and a great closer to the disc. Overall, if you like Low, you'll enjoy this album. They've tried a few different things with their sound, but nothing sounds forced and the new ideas are actually a welcome sound for the trio.

Rating: 7.5