A Song for Saturday: Low – In Metal

This is a song for those who feel fragile on a Saturday.

Low are a band just weird enough never to be well-known, but accessible enough for anyone who really wants to listen. It’s claimed that they are the leaders of what came to be known as a subgenre called “slowcore”, although they hate that label. I just think of them as a really great minimalist rock band, one that writes songs that take time to creep up on you and steal your heart.

In Metal is the closing track on what I still think is their best album, 1999’s “Things We Lost In the Fire”. It’s a sprawling record, nearly an hour long – and at the pace Low play, it feels that long, although never dull. I saw them perform the whole album live at the Barbican in 2006, as part of the Don’t Look Back series, one of All Tomorrow’s Parties best innovations.

The song is about the child of the two founder members of Low, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, and it even features recordings of the baby cooing, making the “tiny sounds” referred to in the first line. The lyrics are minimal enough to be quoted here in their entirety:

Filling holes with tiny sounds

Shining from the inside out

Picture of you where it began

In metal, in metal

Partly hate to see you grow

And just like your baby shoes

Wish I could keep your little body

In metal, in metal

In metal, in metal

In metal, in metal

The music is lovely and highlights the band’s gift for harmony, as well as showing what can be done with a broad dynamic range and a sense of momentum. But it’s among the most moving songs I can think of. I’m not a parent, but this song makes me feel like one. The sense of bittersweet emotion and love and care is almost overwhelming.

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