RIYLYo La Tengo
The Winter Blanket
The Dandy Warhols
3. Everybody's Song
4. Silver Rider
5. Just Stand Back
6. On The Edge Of
7. Cue The Strings
9. When I Go Deaf
10. Broadway (So Many People)
12. Death of a Salesman
13. Walk Into The Sea
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Let’s say for a moment that you’re a band that for all intents and purposes started a musical genre. You’d feel kind of obligated to keep up that style, wouldn’t you? How long could you put out albums with the same feel before you considered changing things up? Personally, if it were me, and my albums still sounded great and the songs were as strong as ever, I wouldn’t change. I mean, why mess with a good thing?
If only Low took this advice. After a decade of making beautiful slowcore, Low decides to get peppy and poppy on way too much of The Great Destroyer…with disastrous results. The album starts out with a faster than normal song called “Monkey.” You let it slide, after all, maybe they needed to convince Sub Pop they were more than a 1 trick pony. Unfortunately it gets worse as the next two songs are played with an over the top R.E.M. pop feel to them and it just sounds so wrong.
It’s not all bad pop songs though. “Everybody’s Song,” “Silver Rider,” and “Pissing” make you realize that Low still has slowcore down. “On the Edge Of” has wailing, crunchy Crazy Horse-esque guitars that grow on you the more you listen to it. And “When I Go Deaf” and “Death of a Salesman,” with their haunting lyrics rank up there as two of my favorite Low tracks. And as you’re listening to these songs, you almost forget about the terrible beginning of the album, but mixed in for good measure are more weak pop tracks like “Step” and “Just Stand Back.”
My first couple of listens to The Great Destroyer left me wondering if I’d like some of the poppier songs if they weren’t being performed by Low. You know, because when I hear the name Low I think of slow beating drums, powerful guitar chords, and gentle singing. But when I got that aural image out of my head, I realized that those were just bad pop songs, and they’d make any album worse. This is definitely a half and half album, so I say go seek out the older albums by Low, they won’t let you down.