The Low Low brings an ebullient, off-kilter approach to classic pop. Nodding to the effortless yet incisive alt-pop of Broadcast and St. Vincent, the flawless melodies of Carole King, and the inventive vocal work of Vashti Bunyan and Diane Cluck, The Low Low’s new EP “Birthday at the Beach” is unveiled today.

A self-described “choir girl chamber-pop” act (spearheaded by New Zealand’s Catherine Walker), The Low Low began with a slow simmer. Following the release of 2012 EP Magenta, Walker spent time travelling, working at a vineyard on a reclusive island (where she’d swim daily on her lunch breaks) before holing up on a Queenstown high country station – devising vocal parts for the body of work that would soon become Birthday at the Beach.

Birthday at the Beach is a refined and muscular offering. Dipping into the sacred pool of all great pop material, The Low Low explores heartbreak, loneliness, longing and self-destruction across five tracks. Deceptively simple songwriting is infused with genuine feeling and a certain ease of phrase and harmony, produced with aplomb by Walker and Tom Healy (Tiny Ruins, Paquin, Bic Runga) at Auckland studio The Lab.

Soaring opener ‘Wellspring’ (featuring Benjamin Morley of Mice on Stilts) is a warm, textural ode with hypnotically abstract lyrics rallying like a mantra. Second song – and first EP single – ‘I Had The Thought’ shimmers effortlessly along to a stomping four-to-the-floor beat, echoing the fluid electronic flow and melancholic psych-folk of Broadcast. Eponymous track ‘Birthday at the Beach’ could have come from the lips of Harry Nilsson, and showcases Walker’s skill and taste for nailing the deceptively simple. ‘Drink it Down’ is a sombre musing on friendship and community, while EP closer ‘Girl Like You’ meditates on youthful loneliness with sensitivity and feeling.

Stunning string arrangements tug against sparkling synthesisers, and surprising shifts into dream-like layers and gracefully suspended moments – yet what shines through is The Low Low’s knack for writing a classic pop track. Birthday at the Beach is brimming with them – and it feels like only the beginning. Take a listen to the EP in full at the links below.

The Low Low – Birthday at the Beach EP

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