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The Low Anthem: On My God, Charlie Darwin

B

The Low Anthem

Album: On My God, Charlie Darwin
Label: Nonesuch

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A peek at the liner notes for Oh My God, Charlie Darwin—which solemnly states that the album was recorded “in the solace of a Block Island winter”—suggests that Rhode Island’s The Low Anthem is angling to be this year’s Bon Iver. The music itself does nothing to dispel the notion: Like Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, The Low Anthem’s Ben Knox Miller affects an otherworldly falsetto when he’s trying to express a sense of unbearable isolation unique to sequestered folk singers. Lest things get overly precious (as they nearly do on the too-pristine title track), Miller breaks out his best Tom Waits impression on the apocalyptic stomper “The Horizon Is A Beltway” and a cover of Waits’ own “Home I’ll Never Be.” Otherwise, there isn’t much rock ’n’ roll here, though grittier numbers like the surging “Champion Angel” imply that Oh My God would have sounded better if it wasn’t so stripped-down and serious. But there’s no denying how incredibly intimate and pretty Oh My God is, particularly “(Don’t) Tremble,” where Knox sounds like he’s whispering a sweet lullaby a few inches from your ear.