Early 2013 is going to be an especially exciting time for fans of Alan Sparhawk. Next month his Retribution Gospel Choir will release a new two-song, 42-minute-long LP via Duluth imprint Chaperone Records, and on March 19 he’ll celebrate his 20th year fronting slowcore band Low with the release of their latest studio album, The Invisible Way.
As previously reported, The Invisible Way was produced by Jeff Tweedy at Wilco’s studio in Chicago. And today, we got our first listen of the album’s opening track as part of NPR Music’s 2013 Winter Music Preview.
Tweedy’s fingerprints are not immediately visible on “Plastic Cup”—at least not to my ears. The track reminds me of the pop-oriented songs from their 2011 full-length, C’mon, but with an even more straightforward acoustic approach. And yet the song doesn’t sound plain by any means; Sparhawk’s tell-it-like-it-is lyrics are bolstered by wife Mimi Parker’s sweet harmonies and unflinching, soft malleted tom-tom drum. It’s sparse and simple and ultimately quite beautiful, and I’ve found myself returning to the song again and again today.
The Invisible Way is Low’s 10th album and fourth to be released on Seattle label Sub Pop, which they signed to in 2004. Sup Pop is also the home of Retribution Gospel Choir’s growing discography.