“All the soldiers, they’re all gonna die.” The opening line of Low’s fantastic new record tells you what’s on Alan Sparhawk’s mind, and the going gets grim from there. He told Pitchfork:
Near as I can tell, it’s all about killing. I was kind of realizing the other day that a lot of the songs deal with either killing someone or dying. I don’t know, it’s kind of funny…maybe that’s the big question. [We're] kind of living in a time when it’s good to talk about killing and being killed.
Well, a little morbid curiosity never killed anyone. But the angles on killing that Low take are varied, and sometimes sympathetic. On the perfect “Murderer,” Alan sings:
One more thing before I go / One more thing I’ll ask you Lord / You may need a murderer / Someone to do your dirty work … Seems like you could use another fool / Well I’m cruel, and I look right though / You must have more important things to do / So if you need a murderer…
Dark stuff, but like you aren’t gonna feel for the Alan-voiced (anti) hero. And this second go with Low is another proud moment for Dave Fridmann, who keeps the clang and chime with the Clap, instead toying with the minimalist arrangements the Duluth trio have mastered, opting for cadential, Procol Harum organs (the awesome “Violent Past”), doubled Sparhawk vox, backward guitars, and syncopated, zig-zagging strings (the great, ghostly “Belarus”). And best of all, on “Hatchet,” one of the band’s poppiest tunes yet, Alan and Mimi harmonize on the lyric of the year:
You be my Charlie, and I will be your George /
Let’s bury the hatchet like The Beatles and the Stones
Use that next time your girlfriend is pissed.
Drums And Guns is out 3/20 on Sub Pop.