Born Into A Spider/Winter – Low Duo Review
On Low Duo's new double A-side, the band do their usual trick of pulling heartbreak in two very different directions, and ending up with something quietly magnificent…
As if brutally scratched into vinyl with his guitar-head, Low Duo's guitarist brother Adam Greenwood furnishes 'Born Into A Spider' with a set of tremulous guitar lines as unnerving a spider's scuttle. It’s the kind of hyperkinetic sound captured by post-punk and 60s spy scores –basically if John Barry had written the Psycho score instead of Bernard Herrmann. It's a powerful statement that really hits home once the relative calm of 'Winter' comes around, but here Adam takes the first vital steps to the classic Low Duo payload – abrasive, explosive solo guitar with the a fearful nagging pulse.
Low Duo then pull their favourite trick – while Adam’s musical shifts dramatically, Leigh Greenwood dives in at its contrary best, rough and porcelain, untrained and masterful, bloodied and serene. Leigh's has the same distinctive singing style as Radiohead's Thom Yorke, and coupled with Low Duo’s deft songwriting, has lead led to unfavourable comparisons. Unlike Thom though, Leigh’s vocal scarcely distinguishes beauty and gnarl, unfurling a tapestry of anger, sorrow and panic.
Ok, so spider metaphors are well-worn (“the hairy legged spider… the libido… the first stirrings of sexual awakening!” – Bill Bailey on Little Miss Muffet) but Low Duo like to play with these myths and expectations, hanging evocative images over ambiguous figures – the speaker, the lover, the men and woman are stark yet share many qualities, making it unclear what roles they play.
Most of all, this is tense music relieved, pretty problematically, by a floating, super-light chorus. 'Winter' on the other hand is elegiac and still, cycling round on a couple of chords. Hinging on the lines 'In a battle of self-doubt/The lines were drawn and she won't ever change', the winter metaphor also completely blots out the speaker and their relationship to the woman, leaving them both to be comforted by the disconnection of the elements (the lonely iced hands, her feet slipping in the rain). It's as moving in its stillness as 'Born Into A Spider' is for its suddeness, and builds a different kind of uneasy.
If you’ve not encountered Low Duo yet, this is the perfect distillation of their magic – pervasive dread cloaked in some of the most complete songwriting Sheffield has seen in a long time. On the basis of this new single, Low Duo's March mini-LP should bring even more strartling things.
Words By Jonathan Scott
'Born Into A Spider/Winter' will be released on 28th February through Bandcamp. You can check out Low Duo's Soundcloud below…