Friday, January 22, 2010

2 - (2010)

Although his principal endeavor has long been the band Low, Alan Sparhawk’s Retribution Gospel Choir is proving to be a worthy and engaging side project. This time out, on their second LP (and debut for the Sup Pop imprint), he’s joined by Low bassist Steve Garrington and drummer Eric Pollard (No Wait Wait); but, unfortunately, not by Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters), who had a large presence on the band’s debut. While the group dynamics shift decidedly toward ‘power trio’ mode as a result, the results are fine indeed; often surprising. True, in places Sparhawk unfolds trademark signatures: gradually evolving slowcore rock. This is particularly prevalent on the deliciously attenuated “Poor Man’s Daughter.” More often, 2 serves as a departure from the slowcore blueprint, eschewing the thoughtful, gently shaded arrangements of Low for stentorian environs. Indeed, the eight-minute “Electric Guitar,” while on the slow side, is much more indebted to noise-rock than slowcore. It features gale force instrumental breaks and includes a thunderous, protracted jam that takes up much of the song’s latter half. Conversely, songs like “Working Hard” and “White Wolf” evince a more compact, mid-tempo framework, including appealing, positively pop hooks amid sturdy heavy rock arrangements. The album closes with an atmospheric ballad, “Bless us All,” a reminder of Sparhawk’s roots on which emotive chorused vocals are delivered over a deliberate bass drone-ostinato. And while it’s fair to say that Low compatriot Mimi Sparhawk is missed here, both as a vocalist and drummer, Garrington and Pollard are fine collaborators. They press Alan Sparhawk to expand his reach, both in terms of pacing and amplitude, bringing out a fresh side to his abundant musical gifts. (

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails