I Could Live In Hope - (1994)
Like so many of their contemporaries, Low are repeatedly lumped into numerous derivative and nondescript headings intended to encompass slow-paced, instrument-driven music that maintains an indie aesthetic. Quite simply, no category can truly reveal the beauty and glory of Low's debut record I Could Live in Hope. Sad core? Not even close! I Could Live in Hope is an incredibly joyous journey of spirit and songwriting sensibility. The record remains patient and sparse throughout (just guitar, bass, high hat, and snare, and angelic vocals by the husband and wife team of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker), but succeeds beautifully. Low truly behold the gift of understatement. Working with long-time producer and New York underground mainstay Kramer, Low examine their own fears and haunting experiences, occasionally linking them with Biblical references, while consoling listeners with warm layers of ethereal vocals and waves of guitar reverberation. Tracks are simple one-word titles but that's all that they require — too much information would spoil the record's elegance. And that's probably why they open the record with "Words," a song about the overuse and misuse of language, that sets the tone for the entire album, right up to their plaintive and passionate cover of "You Are My Sunshine." Every small nuance of production is evident — Sparhawk's fingers not quite connecting on a chord change or sliding over a fret and echoing infinitely — making I Could Live in Hope a true testament to both Low and Kramer's penchant for capturing the lushest of soundscapes.