Nowadays the ampersand is a divider, not a uniter. That’s right, Low Lows is Parker & Lily’s breakup album, the one where the New Yorkers walk alone at night as vague Wurlitzer and Fender Rhodes melodies reverberate sadly off the alley walls. When he’s not simply slurring — or talking to himself — the effects on Parker Noon’s vocals obscure his lyrics behind dripping mercury. But his wavering between anger, grief and resignation at a relationship gone south is made clear in the flecks of steel guitar, brass, old-time radio organ, electric and analog percussion that scatter in Low Lows’ midnight blue corners. Let’s just say it: This is a record with an atmosphere thicker than Titan. “Suit of Fire” sounds like decrepit music software approximating Galaxie 500, and “Last Good Night” flattens out and lengthens ’60s soul balladry. The opening title track floats like a film noir shadow, while the weeping guitar and crackling organ of “June Gloom” form gently into a slow dance number. Low Lows rarely reveals its details, and its dull-lidded qualities can frustrate, like Low on opiates. But through their pain Parker & Lily have given us something too evocative to ignore. It’s mood that’s the message.
Appearing Thursday, Feb. 17, at the Lager House (1254 Michigan, Detroit; 313-961-4668).
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.