Reviews / The Low Anthem / Van Dyke Parks

The Low Anthem: Smart Flesh

Finally! Something different!

The Low Anthem started out playing homemade instruments in a church basement.
Smart Flesh is their first studio project. Yet, it was recorded in an abandoned factory. Go figure.

This is a fine album. Keyword – album, not simply a collection of tracks pieced together for extended play (like so much of what I’ve been hearing lately.)

This is the type of music people use to make. Each note, lyric and arrangement matter. The words aren’t more important than the music – both are meticulously thought-out pieces of a whole that carefully conjure up the topical images at hand.

It’s eclectic. Like a haunting musical trip through the attic. There are unexpected twists and turns, though at times eccentric, manage to make sense and flow together.

The experimental nature of the record and eeriness of Ben Knox Miller’s voice are reminiscent of Van Dyke Park’s Song Cycle. But it isn’t just one thing. “Apothecary Love” is a little bit Gram Parsons, “I’ll Take you Out,” a little bit Basement Tapes. Yet there are catchier, more powerful tracks such as the orchestral based “Boeing 737” or the Band-esque drum-centric, “Hey All You Hippies,” which rather surprisingly, don’t seem out of place at all.

Describing this music doesn’t do it justice. It’s an album worthy of one’s full attention.

The Low Anthem’s symphonic “Boeing 737”

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