Like a Northern soul venturing south for the first time, anxiously questioning the freshness of the water, Low Duo seem tentative – this being their third EP in the build-up to a full length record – tentative yet tremendously stirring. With a body of work exceeding the limitations of an album both in quality and length, one shouldn’t await such a recognised format with too much eagerness.
Truth and Regret is a five-track beauty beginning very much how previous EP Fear and Failure left off – blending seamlessly with a back catalogue of deserved acclaim. At the same time, the format of releasing EPs allows for experimentation, resulting in the magnificent offerings available here. With many uttering the name Low Duo alongside a stream of superlatives, the pairing would perhaps be forgiven for buckling under pressure, but there’s no sign of that here.
Adam’s dexterity with a singular guitar astounds and their minimal approach knows no limitations. Percussion comes via fragile plucks of the strings and hand-tapping the base of his guitar. The second instrument, Leigh’s voice, is more haunting and compelling than ever before. Ambulance is a solemn, absorbing opener. In Our Little House is a jolty, intimate moment with a looming sense of paranoia underlying its delicacy, swiftly shifting from muted subtleties to crashing strums.
It is track three however, Sleep Alone, on which one surrenders fully to this musical ideal. An unquestionable beauty is expressed through exquisite lyrics, charmingly backed by what feels like dreamy lullaby – a contrast to the expressed loss of innocence as the protagonist learns to settle down. “And I’ll be left, a blank inside a frame, just to sleep alone again” sings Leigh – illustrating the torment of heartbreak and broken memories with painfully real hindsight.
The promotion of a bachelor existence seems somewhat cold and withdrawn as Leigh deliberates over the pain of sleeping alone. A pain like this is worth experiencing if it allows a song this beautiful to be shared. Perfection is rarely available, let alone in a sub-three minute pop track, Low Duo we thank you.
“Your secret matter hits me hard” is heard without breath as the pounding bass of Secret Matters provides probably the most immediate punch Low Duo have experimented with. The ingeniously poetic workings of Leigh marry sentiments of failed love with an innocent beauty, “We were so close, like two eyes upon the same face” and a sombre realisation, “blindly love has been replaced”. Pairing the contrasting tracks beside each other is a daring yet effective move that adopts added poignancy with each listen.
If you are yet to listen to the work of the Greenwood’s, one would strongly suggest Truth and Regret, it provides an uncompromised insight in to a superlative musical format, a base from which additions merely detract. Low Duo’s format is less simple, more ingenious and provides far more depth, hope and frustration than a single singer songwriter ever could.
Words: Jack Mitchell