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Record Review 

Duluth, Minn., "power" trio Low return with their fifth full-length, Things We Lost in the Fire, their first since 1999's Secret Name. And with Things We Lost, Low show why they are indeed the most powerful group in the slowcore genre. They produce a type of repetitious music that relies on subtle, resounding changes and intricate, aching interchanges between instruments and vocals instead of heavy rock guitars and/or hardcore beats.

But Things We Lost is Low's finest, heaviest album. Sounds are more finely detailed and firmly presented. The album smolders with the almost spiritual tension of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's voices. Skeletal brushstrokes and surgical snares -- though now even rising to a resounding clang, such as on "Dinosaur Act" -- yet again anchor minimalist melodies, but Low no longer project reserve and detachment. Like a garden wake, Parker exudes hope more forcefully than ever before and wraps visceral eulogies such as "Sunflower," "Whore" and "In Metal" in warm harmonies.

Anyone who accuses this music of being numb(ing) doesn't realize it's that way because it's so naked it can be chillingly revealing. Low ache with an intimacy some people just aren't prepared to share. Here's hoping their fire continues to burn for the rest of us.

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