Those of you that worried Big Thief were over when Adrianne Lenker released her solo album last year worry no more. Firstly, she’s done that before y’know, and secondly, here’s the band’s third album U.F.O.F. Apparently the last F stands for friend as if that info means it make sense. Anyway, you know this lot are a decent band - they’ve shown it twice before, so let’s not let an album title get between us and the music! LP and CD on 4AD.
Limited Exclusive Vinyl LP £15.49 4AD0129LPNORM
Black vinyl LP on 4AD. Includes limited edition, exclusive lyric poster.
- NORMAN RECORDS EXCLUSIVE
- Limited edition
Vinyl LP £15.75 4AD0129LP
Black vinyl LP on 4AD.
CD £10.06 4AD0129CD
CD on 4AD.
Vinyl LP £15.49 4AD0129LPXE
Limited edition, indies only orange coloured vinyl LP on 4AD.
- Coloured vinyl
- Indies only
We all loved that Adrienne Lenker album from last year didn't we? Well I did but I have to admit I didn't know much about her band Big Thief. Thirty seconds into 'Contact' the opening track on this, their third album I'm wondering how on earth this has escaped my attention. Most things I love about music are here. Strange jangling guitar chords, weird lopsided melodies - a sense of folk music having gone askew somewhere all topped off by Lenker's inventive vocals.
For those of us who grew up with the eerie backwoods sound of early REM there is much to enjoy in the arpeggiated guitar work. It's gauzy, hazy fingerpicked sound is not dissimilar to that of Peter Buck circa Murmur era particularly on the title track. But don't panic if you are a non REM believe it's just the tone and texture that is similar. Otherwise Big Thief produce a fascinatingly strange take on folk inflected pop that recalls artists as diverse as Sufjan Stevens, Red House Painters, The Innocence Mission and 10000 Maniacs. They've definitely front loaded the album with the best bits. The opening duo of tracks almost leave me breathless, everything else is lovingly pleasant and Lenker has the ability to lead the band with a unique but ever changing voice.
Whether UFOF will be a breakout record for Big Thief it's hard to tell. There's lots to admire throughout and some great standout tracks - it sometimes seems as though it rakes over already well trodden ground but then they do something like Strange which is just so perfect it makes you want to squeeze something. Its math rock textures recall the guitar interplay of the likes of American Football or in particular their side project Very Secretary. Over 12 tracks the album can't keep up that winning intensity but it's all good. Title excepted. It fails the 'classic album' test as in... the classic album Doolittle, the classic album Nevermind, the classic album Teen Dream.......the classic album U.F.O.F??? Hmmmm...no.
8/10 Vicky 16th May 2019
This is an excellent album, has the big thief signature weirdness, fragility and effortlessness musicianship. Now they are on 4AD the vinyl pressing seems better quality than the dreadful noisy pressings on their previous label. A bit perplexed why Lenker pilfered songs off her solo effort, not really needed. I think this will be a grower and might see them getting some commercial success although 6music isn’t exactly pushing it. Not as mindblowingly amazing as Masterpiece which can literally give you goosebumps, but a fine album all the same.
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