arts   |   music

Big Thief? More like Big W



Big Thief’s music is transportive. The acoustic strums and sparse production whisks the listener away into a new world. A Midwestern house with a dilapidated back deck, the table littered with coffee mugs and empty cigarette cartridges. The yard is lush and overgrown, the site of broken bones, chipped teeth and bloodied knuckles. It’s a world full of back alleys adorned with broken glass and heaps of trash. It’s the real world but relayed through the eyes and experiences of someone else.

The Brooklyn quartet’s new album “Two Hands” is an unfurling, slow burn of emotional revelations and personal confessions.

“Two Hands” comes just five months after the band released its third album “U.F.O.F” back in May. It’s astounding how they managed to one-up an amazing album just five months later. Some bands drop their magnum opus and spend years trying to recreate that same magic, only to realize they’ll never reach those same heights. Big Thief surpassed those heights in the same year.

The album is an intimate experience. There’s no sleek layer of glossy production. There are no touch-ups. It sounds like you’re there watching them live in studio, their instruments drawing you closer, inviting you to sit down and catch up.

“Hand me that cable,” singer Adrienne Lenker sings on opening track “Rock and Song.” “Plug into anything.”

“I am unstable,” she sings seconds later.

The level of intimacy takes the music to dark, often disturbing places. Lenker begs you to come closer only to divulge ugly secrets and darkened images.

On standout track “Shoulders” Lenker sings, “And the blood of the man who’s killing our mother with his hands is in me. It’s in me.”

Sonically, the music is peaceful. It’s fresh, folk-tinged indie rock. The vocals never go stratospheric, the guitars never wail. But the lyrics are violent. The stories are dark.

“When she holds me in her jaw all the blood dripping,” Lenker sings on “Wolf.” “Will I be free to cease gripping?”

The sun hangs high on “Two Hands," but Lenker and her band mates are still operating within the confines of the long shadows it creates. And that’s perfectly fine.

This year has been momentous for Big Thief. “Two Hands” is a powerful piece of music from a powerful band.

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