Every Record I Own: Big Thief – U.F.O.F.
There’s a moment in Contact, the first song on this album where the acoustic guitar ends and the sustain rings out, the gentle breathy vocals finishes the rest of it’s word, closely followed by a distant scream and a couple of bars of distorted guitar to wrap up the song.
I was a huge fan of Capacity, Big Thief’s previous album. (And Masterpiece, but not to the same extent.) Capacity felt like a band serving the needs of the song. It was full of beautiful but safe instrumentation. Nothing was out of place and even in the louder moments in the album everything felt planned and orchestrated.
Compared to other artists I associated them with at the time, Big Thief were always a bit more sonically experimental. Their production was richer and Adrienne Lenker’s vocals sometimes stretched to the edge of her ability.
That moment in Control is when Big Thief became definitively their own thing. I don’t know if Big Thief have any direct contemporaries anymore.
It did take me a little while to come around to this new Big Thief, but once I did I loved it.
The songs are still as good as they ever were, and the moments of beauty remain, but it never feels guaranteed. There’s always something pushing back on it.
This album uses tape loops, samples, room sounds and murmurs, various instruments and percussion, haunting reverbed backing vocals making a layer of disquiet. While still allowing moments of space when it’s needed.
I listened to the record on my noise cancelling headphones, because there’s construction happening in the house next door and picked up on some sounds I hadn’t picked up on before.
I saw Big Thief at the end of last year and it was amazing. The push and pull between Buck Meek who keeps things controlled and Adrienne Lenker who makes things wilder felt really apparent. I think I’ve mentioned that exact push/pull as something I love in other albums on this blog. I think it’s one of the things that sets a band apart from a solo artist.
I’ll come back to Big Thief here again
Fave songs: Contact, Cattails, Orange, Jenni