It is fair to admit that this album was a slow-burning fascination for me. At first and second listens, it did not grab my attention in the way that other records this year have done so. It simply slipped through my consciousness without leaving any discernible trace.
And yet, on third, fourth and fifth listen, this album opens up like a tumescent flower in bloom, leaving the listener in no doubt as to its true majesty. Low have certainly pioneered a unique musical brand in the past but here they refine it to dazzling effect. Try to Sleep is a delicate foray into low-fi indie splendour whilst You See Everything retains the attention through an infectious refrain which haunts the listener. Witches is more bellicose (but only relative to other songs on this album) and reminds the listener of Spiritualised at their most stripped back. Especially Me benefits from arch lyrics which prove impossibly moving and self-deprecating ('But as it stands, We don't have a clue, Especially me and probably you') whilst Nightingale reverts to the light touch motifs of the album opener. The real creative peak of this spell-binding masterpiece though is Nothing But Heart, a kind of Folk/Drone opus, which builds gravitas and momentum from glacially minimalist beginnings. The finishing crescendo of harmonies and heart-rending vocals will not fail to move the listener.
One of the most remarkable things about this album though is the subtle contrast in mood and atmosphere that the band conjure up through both instrument, lyric and vocal tack. You are never quite sure if this is an album of hope, despair, love or hate. It consistently challenges the listener to reflect and re-assess. If anything sums up this ambiguity (and potential menace), it is the chorus of the album closer, 'Something's turning over, You better get out while you can (repeat), Get out while you're young'. Get out of what? What awaits us? Or is this arch irony from one of the coolest bands around?
Either way, from humble beginnings, this musical masterwork has manouevred itself into a niche within my brain and it shows no signs of going anywhere. Highly, highly recommended.