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Drums and Guns
(Sub Pop)
Essential: "Dragonfly"

Thirteen years on from Low's ethereal slow-core debut, "I Could Live in Hope," the dark, emotionally brittle "Drums and Guns" abandons that sweet promise with no apology. The Minnesota trio also shifts directions from 2005's brilliant "The Great Destroyer," ditching extroverted guitar romps packed with pop hooks to return, emotionally, to an introverted fetal position. "Drums and Guns" is, nevertheless, magnificent. Joined by new bassist Matt Livingston, guitarist Alan Sparhawk and drummer Mimi Parker lead with the uninviting bitter electronic blues "Pretty People." They eventually rise to the graceful, melancholic finale, "Violent Past," which exudes more tender concession and acceptance than most songs here. The spare, shivery arrangements of distorted guitars and keyboards sit under Sparhawk and Parker's bruised and beautiful leads and harmonies, which often weave around heavy dead air.

[Linda Laban] Low performs at the Somerville Theatre Saturday.