Tracks of the Decade: “Charlie Darwin” by The Low Anthem

The Low Anthem LOFI4“Charlie Darwin”
by The Low Anthem

Fittingly, the 2000’s were good for the protest song. You had questionable wars, infuriating leadership, racial discord, and political extremism of all kinds. Artists from Jay Farrar to Bruce Springsteen to Radiohead all found ways to musically voice their opinions on this or that issue, but it was Rhode Island’s The Low Anthem that consolidated all of the angst and restlessness into the decade’s definitive hymn of dissent. Setting up history’s most controversial naturalist as a prophet in the wilderness, the lyric and music blend seamlessly, the song’s gentle sway eliciting the swell of the sea. For The Low Anthem, we are adrift in a broken vessel with no sight or hope of land. Why? We’ve failed to heed the words of the prophet, and so “the lords of war just profit from decay.” It’s the resplendent bridge, though, that scores the chills. When the band sings “Oh my god,” the three-part falsetto harmonies ring with a stark tranquility. It’s a hard truth, that something so classically beautiful can be so full of despair, but the band proceeds to proclaim the jeremiad. Still, with music like this closing the decade, I believe there’s ample reason for hope. “Toward the bright horizon set the way.”