Saturday, October 22, 2011
Album Review-" Low Roar" by Low Roar
If, after listening to Low Roar, you don't have a special place carved out in your heart for Ryan Karazija's music then you best just cuddle back up with your Farmville, fantasy football leagues or porno magazines because you surely must not have people whom you have loved and lost in your life. The songs feel both intimate and detached in a swoon of chilly echo. Ryan treats his lyrics as a frame work for his beautiful melodies instead of the other way around and doesn't hesitate giving his words their own lyrical architecture to suit the melody he creates. Thom Yorke is a master at this, extending a first syllable so much that a particular word is unrecognizable until the complete world is uttered. Ryan does this with beautiful effect as well and while Yorke/ Radiohead comes to mind in songs like "Help Me", "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" and "Puzzle" because of some of the production flourishes and vocal strains, Low Roar is very much his own emotional animal.
The songs on Low Roar's self title album were rendered in Reykjavik, Iceland and one wonders if the new culture impacted these songs. "Give Up" does have a beautiful drone that sounds like a harmonium in the background, a popular instrument in Nordic folk music. With it's guitar picking, pearly sound and Ryan's emotional singing, the song cuts straight to your heart with lyrics like. "In my world, I'll do my best to make it seem like I'm happy" and the chorus refrain "Don't give up on me." The clarity of Ryan's voice and his aforementioned ability to construct some wonderful lyrical melodies as he hangs out syllables to suit the mood is really evident in "Just a Habit" - a song that can lull you into a serene state. "Patience" is immediately dour and dark with an amazing chorus that lifts you if only into a dark place. It would be a wonderful song to grace a movie soundtrack. The title song "Low Roar" creates images of cathedrals but is just an interlude. One of my favorite songs on Low Roar is the lengthy titled "Friends make Garbage, Good Friends take it out" and is one of those songs that you could hear around a campfire to take the chill away. It is propelled by dancy guitar picking and what could be wooden sticks being clapped together. "Because we have to", the saddest sounding song on Low Roar evokes a tragedy about to unfold.
Low Roar is for those among us who love beautiful songs that do have a somber, sad tone. You can call it dark folk, you can call it alternative folk, what ever you call it, Low Roar can stir you into an introspective place and cast evocative images in your mind.