Published May 14, 2012
Ryan Joseph Karazija’s self-recorded debut album as Low Roar details his struggles as an American to acclimatise to a new life in Iceland. It occupies that post-Radiohead world of cold introspection and societal melancholy, with delicately plucked acoustic guitars and solemnly paced electronica beats and clicks. On several occasions, Ryan even sounds like Thom Yorke as he sings his high-end mournful sighs. But despite this being a home recording, there’s a huge amount of space in the music, with everything drenched in a foggy blanket of reverb. It feels like you’re living in a cave of eternal sadness.
Listening to the album for the first time is a bit underwhelming. Some of the songs such as “Give Up” and “Rolling Over” aren’t strong despite all the layered effects, while the pace of the album is often stuck at a slow, maudlin setting. But after repeated listening, there are moments when the album’s components align perfectly. “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” has a threatening, bleak edge with grinding cello, ambient synths and shuffling rhythms, while the track “Low Roar” manipulates Ryan’s vocals to the point that they have an angelic floating feeling, similar to that of Julianna Barwick. Meanwhile, “Friends Make Garbage (Good Friends Take It Out)” just aches with longing and regret.