Last is the fourth album from Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love (who shall henceforth be referred to simply as L9). As the title hints, it is also the band's final album; this ups the stakes somewhat, because there will be no do-overs if these 13 tracks don't hit the spot.
Now, I haven't heard any of L9's previous work, so I can't say whether or not Last delivers on the promise of the three albums that preceded it. It is a hell of a last album, though - it's rife with profound thoughts about killing your band and why you'd want to do it.
What starts out as a quiet acoustic number eventually morphs into a crunchy, fuzzy monster - sounds grow less distinct and the whole song is gradually overtaken by feedback. This trick is performed several times throughout the album, and L9's (presumably deliberate) decision to keep things lo-fi is a very effective means of reminding us that everything is headed towards The Very End.
On that note, let's move on to the lyrics. I don't know for sure why L9 are calling it quits, but there are plenty of clues scattered throughout Last:
"I suppose I have my doubts. A shadow of a doubt is blocking the light out." - A Shadow of a Doubt
"How many reasons do you need, how many circles 'round the sun to dispel a dream?...How many reruns have I seen, how many rewinds and repeats of the same old reel?" - Dispel
"The flowering season is not long...spring is here and gone." - Field
"I've got nothing left to say without choking out the same things, and it's stuff that really wasn't worth singing in the first place...I'm like a broken record, a sick and mangy blackbird, a-flapping and gawking clownishly in circles." - Last
L9 seem to be worried about running out of ideas, about repeating themselves and dancing over old ground when they should be bowing out gracefully.
And that, I suppose, is what they've chosen to do, though not without regret - Dispel has the wistful edge of someone finally giving up on their dreams, and while the title track serves as an absolutely superb conclusion to the whole story, it still finds room to state that, well, perhaps this wasn't the best outcome:
"It's all been a prelude to a long and silent encore...if there's one thing I kinda hoped for, it's we'd done something that endured.
"One last crash of all the cymbals - why couldn't life be simple?"
Life doesn't always allow us to keep the band together forever, and even if it did, it wouldn't necessarily be a good idea. The best any music-maker can hope for is to create something that outlives the band, and while it's far too early to tell whether or not Last will be that "something that endured", it's certainly a very moving comment on the temporary nature of creativity and...well, life at large, I guess.
Last is out today! Buy it here.