As the last two minutes of "John Prine" play out, with Low's three members trading the sombre call-and-response "sha-la-la-la-la" like they're reciting scripture, their words echoing into the desolate oblivion of that silence that swallows such silly syllables, I have no doubt Low are the great pop band they claim to be; such a simple phonetic phrase makes my heart go dum-dum-ditty-boom-boom. Of course, this is Low, so lyrics like "sha-la-la-la-la" take on much meaning, either through interpretation or irony. But the reason they stand out is because, well, the last two minutes of "John Prine" are, without hyperbole, some of the greatest sound that's ever been committed to tape. And, well, then, two tracks later, Low deliver a tune called "La La La Song," which delivers an almost R.E.M.-like, McGuinn-guitar-reverent refrain "la-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la, etc." Which doesn't make for enlightening reading in this context, I realize. But, it's fascinating when it comes from this band, a trio of self-deprecating Mormons from Minnesota who make music most often described as glacial, with brutal and beautiful close behind. It's fascinating that Low, known for playing really slow and really quiet, have, at least in some moments, become concerned with the inanities of pop music. And even more fascinating that it isn't some incongruity, or paradox, or some cheap stroke of kitschy irony. In this context, such syllables can carry great weight. I mean, is "sha-la-la-la-la" any more meaningless than "she rides on coattails," the mantra that drummer Mimi Parker sang over and over and over to so much effect on what is still this trio's best record 1996's The Curtain Hits the Cast? And, for that matter, is it any more meaningless than all those bizarre lyrics guitarist Alan Sparhawk put forth on "Dinosaur Act," the single from their last album, 2001's Things We Lost in the Fire? The end result, when contemplating such matters, is a conclusion that is pretty fucking obvious anyway: Low could sing your shopping list and make it sound romantic. They could sing a George W. Bush address and make it sound convincing. They could sing a nursery rhyme and make it sound like a hymn. Sparhawk and Parker, husband and wife, have spent the last decade singing together, holding notes for so long that anyone trying to sing along turns blue in the face, singing in some kind of harmony not heard since, like, The Carpenters, or Simon & Garfunkel, or something. And, just as pets and owners begin to look alike, over all these years, over six albums and so many scattered singles that it's hard to keep up, their voices have started to sound more and more like each other, blending together in a pop-song craft so pure and spiritual and free from fashion that you still don't know how to describe it. Perhaps one needs to take cues from Low, who now know the meaninglessness of words in relation to music. Sha-la-la-la-la. Sha-la-la-la-la.