Big Thief is a band that grows on you. My older sister introduced me to them, as older sisters do. The first time I heard them, I wasn’t sure if I liked their soft, often plaintive sound. But the more I listened, the more I liked it. Now, the band has become a sort of comfort food for me.
I first got into Big Thief with their sophomore album, Capacity. It’s an album I’ve listened to countless times. Frontwoman Adrienne Lenker’s whispery soprano cuts through easy guitar and minimalist drums in “Mythological Beauty.” I play “Shark Smile” alone in my room, cathartically sing-screaming the refrain of “woo, baby, take me” out to no one in particular. “Mary” makes me feel like I’m in an indie coming-of-age movie, laying on the hood of my car in the desert, stargazing with my best friend and thinking about how everything is changing.
Big Thief shines brightest in their newest album, Two Hands. The album, released on October 11, has been described as the “earth twin” of the band’s May release, U.F.O.F. The music is grounded, while the lyrics are intensely personal and genuine. My heartbeat syncs with the light tapping of the snare on “Two Hands.” Lenker’s deep pitch on “Not,” combined with harmonies from bassist Buck Meek, is heartbreakingly good.
If you could record the feeling in your chest that you get when you remember something you haven’t thought about in years, it would sound like Big Thief. Every passing glance and every moment becomes a little treasure, a piece of something bigger.
No song embodies this sense better than “Masterpiece,” their first album’s eponymous track . The first line is, “Years, days, makes no difference to me, babe / You look exactly the same to me.” To me, the song itself is like an old friend: reliable, steady, honest. The music video is made up of candid clips of the band, presumably on tour. Stopping at gas stations, playing guitar in the backseat of an RV, joking around with a waiter at a diner—it’s all so relatable, so human.
Maybe that’s why I gravitate toward bands like Big Thief. The musicians are not untouchable, larger-than-life figures. Instead, I feel almost personally connected with these people I’ve never met, as if I went to summer camp with them, chatted with them while waiting on line or befriended them in preschool. These kinds of accidental connections hold a very specific place in my heart and in my head. Big Thief’s music unifies them – every chance encounter, every forgotten moment, every fleeting friendship.
Big Thief has been steadily gaining fame, playing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote Two Hands. U.F.O.F. was just (deservedly) nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Album. Personally, I don’t think that will change much. There’s something so unfailingly raw and open about Big Thief, and it shouldn’t go anywhere.
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