Album Review: Super Low (Self Titled)

There’s a cute DNA that cascades through the album, through the decades-long symbiotic swells of indie, melancholia and optimism. You could track Super Low back and forth from The Cure, Teenage Fanclub, to Shout Out Louds and Broken Social Scene. You could hurl around namesakes and pick at the plaster but that just takes away from the fun. From the summer soaked semi-cloaked anti-hassle breeze they stir up and the sweet cud that Super Low chew on, to the range of forlorn open vocals and textures, there’s a feel to get wrapped up and lost in.

Networks of melodies feed off each other, never over-fussed rhythms run happy and frantic and politely decline to rest easy. There’s an achingly comforting and amiable feel that feeds you a guilt-free clean vibe. And it’s all so frustratigly clever.

‘Unlimited Data’ plucks and strums through its openings to give way to tight-packed intersections. Vague wisps of synth appear and the leave before seconds long crescendo swells play through pianos and strings and percussion. Verses and choruses, bridges and movements, they fly by with effortless ease. And amongst all the sounds, all the tweaked incarnations of loosely laid melodies, there’s no vie for position, no cramped competition. Every small set of sounds keeps their place.

But dig in for a moment and listen, all the softness and ease of each song gets betrayed by their interlink parts and their planning. Those small frantic swells and shrugged off mini structures, those mirrored attacks of piano and string, nothing came without clean preparation. Excess and fat stripped away. 

As I warp through these perfectly angled neat cuts I’m in awe of the range of instruments. ‘Along’ brings in banjo-strung notes and Beach Boys pitched harmonies amongst well mannered reverb and splash. ‘Runners Up’ steps up pace and shuffles its beat, there’s an elegant measure of playful and mess in the descending riffs that run through. Organs, piano, urgency, off-beats, there’s a darkness that starts to creep in. Then the kaleidoscopic openings of ‘Brighton’s arpeggios set the grounds for a breakaway track…

There’s a giddiness so far unseen, an elastic approach to the sections and sounds where there’s space left for freedom and play. Some of the fat has been left on to render and there’s pay off in texture and taste. There’s a whirl like an echo of joy, dark dappled hints of pre-programmed drums, loops that skip, flutter and fly. It’s like two bands competing, the one known so far and another in testing; there’s a strength to the stretching of feeling. The Shortwave Set (a far too short lived band) is a natural progression and reference.      

Even within tracks I find myself glossing over there’s a part or a moment that catches. ‘Covered In Flames’ , although perfectly set, is a passable workout of all we’ve been taught. But the wait and the playthrough’s rewarded as blissful and sweetened waterfall keys swirl with voices to lead to its ending. That’s the danger of whistle-stop tours; offer too much and a tiredness sets in, I get numbed to the nimble and clever. ‘Lancaster’ does same, running easy and breezy ’til I’m caught in a so-well-known riff that gets flirted with throughout the track. Velvet Underground’s  ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, gets tacked to some lovingly scrappy scratch lead guitar and so how can I not get caught up?

Super Low’s debut is a perfectly painted patchwork of sadness and familiarity, dressed in a wistful last summer. Don’t be kid by easy feelings, don’t be fooled by cool pop vibes…  a whole range of regrets and could have done betters can get made in those long still-warm evenings.

Super Low’s new LP ‘Super Low’ is out now. Find them on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Find my highlights of this album and more tracks from other Rats on the Run featured artists right here on Rats On Run Radio.