Big Thief
U.F.O.F.


4.5
superb

Review

by Slex USER (35 Reviews)
May 3rd, 2019 | 281 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Death dreams I won't forget

Big Thief have a tricky relationship with time. It's there in a song like 'Mythological Beauty' as a prowling force, as a tornado of images and moments, scattershot and all-powerful, as a run-on sentence full of dark foreboding as a mother-to-be's cut thumb morphs into a child's traumatic head wound. Time seems to exist in a dream state for the singer, so that a calming remembrance ends with Lenker waking up on that person's ceiling. It's just as important to her the moments that she's not made privy to, because who the hell knows, maybe anything really could happen in those dangling uncharted minutes. It's a funny thing for the band, too, as they shot out two albums back to back, and hardly a breath between this and the last, yet they continue to grow at an exponential rate. The songs here are more spacious and free-flowing, oozing urgency with a conflicting sense of ease. There are a few more bumps in the night this time as well, manifesting as visceral shrieks and warped tape manipulation, but these songs remain untethered, vacillating through time and dreams and waking thoughts until you've arrived somewhere alien.

The band, of course, thrives in this headspace, welcoming the unknown with open arms ('there will soon be proof that there is no alien' insists the title track). Not since Halcyon Digest has there been a more in-depth exploration of how dreams can haunt our waking days, how the psychic scars of sleep can affect our lives: our friendships, our sense of selves, our very sense of trust. What is sleep but the absence of time, the unwilling acceptance of anonymous imagination" It eats Lenker up: people will disappear, forests will materialize, screaming sounds will rattle the floor. She quite stunningly posits that birth is an annihilating process, being snatched out of time, out of mindless dreaming, with no idea where one has come from. U.F.O.F. is the latest page in Lenker's dream journal, another dialogue with the subconscious that ends "still as the moment we're lying in right now" but alludes that this could be the moment after death (how else could we cease the ticking of the clock").

Better still, it's not all repose and thesis: there are, ya know, actual songs here, and those deliver just as well. Career highlight 'Cattails' has the kind of lilting twang and gently widening sway of all great traveling songs, riding shotgun with a song that can both soar and hover when the moment calls for it, all depending on how the collapsing sun casts its yawn through your window. 'Strange' has bouncy bass and dancing guitar runs until a ghostly hum casts the song askew, the bass all free-association dawdling where once was some of the perkiest instrumental backing of the album. 'Betsy' enters on an eerie whoosh only to unfold into an effortlessly shimmering ballad of plaintive ringing electric guitar with overlaid finger-picked notes of uncomplicated beauty. Lenker gives a stunning showing vocally as well, whether it's the way her odd phrasing in the chorus of 'U.F.O.F.' creates an infectious groove, or her inexplicable and unforgettable low range in 'Betsy'. She's able to create shadings of emotion when her voice dances between pitches, always seeming to know which notes and words to emphasise to leave a lasting impact. It's a dizzying brew of lyricism, musicianship and synergy that provides another dream come true for any fan following this rapidly exemplary band.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Slex
May 2nd 2019


6627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Has fast become one of my absolute favorite bands

Digging: Charly Bliss - Young Enough

luci
May 3rd 2019


10923 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fans of dreamy folk be eatin this year

Slex
May 3rd 2019


6627 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad to see you dig this one

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 3rd 2019


15752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hell yes Slex. Fell in love with the first track. Gonna read while jam later.

Digging: ???? (Ohashi) - ?????? (Nami no Hajimari)

luci
May 3rd 2019


10923 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

didn't connect with the last one cause it was a storytelling record, and I ain't a lyrics guy. this one is more compositionally interesting, sustains a meandering atmosphere without fully succumbing to 'dream pop'. feels like it's levitating above ground. no weak songs, might 4

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 3rd 2019


12113 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

If I loved the first record but disliked the last one will I dig this? From lucid’s comment it seems so. Also bringing out the halcyon digest comparisons here...big shoes to fill

DoofDoof
May 3rd 2019


3310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Wow, this is a major step up for Big Thief, almost unrecognisable. Best female fronted folk/indie album of the year so far.



After one listen already know I'll prefer this to the Weyes Blood, this feels more alive - could be a 4.5 but for now a 4.



'From' floored me, and a couple of others ('Jenni' certainly) weren't far behind.



Has Cat Power 'Moon Pix' vibes in there too, as well as Low super obviously,a little Elliott Smith occasionally - if this impresses similarly on a second go and gets the 4.5 bump I'm thinking maybe an AOTY contender. Seriously did not expect this - always a solid 3.5 band for me before.

Digging: The Young Gods - Data Mirage Tangram

robin
Emeritus
May 3rd 2019


4566 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

they did it

DoofDoof
May 3rd 2019


3310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

F'ck it it's an optimistic 4.5 for now - just relistened to my four favourite songs from this.

Firedust
May 3rd 2019


1176 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

It's okay I guess. Bit bland for my liking.

luci
May 3rd 2019


10923 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what's the deal with the two repurposed songs off lenker's album? how did they change em (didn't hear her solo)

Gyromania
May 3rd 2019


27144 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

why are people shitting on weyes blood. GET OUT.

robin
Emeritus
May 3rd 2019


4566 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

what's the deal with the two repurposed songs off lenker's album? how did they change em (didn't hear her solo)





drums / flourishes

DoofDoof
May 3rd 2019


3310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

'why are people shitting on weyes blood. GET OUT.'



Hardly sh'tting on it - just was my favourite female vox album of the year before this hence the comparison

DoofDoof
May 3rd 2019


3310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

First four songs are untouchable on this



Def best four song run of 2019

Gyromania
May 3rd 2019


27144 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not better than Titanic Rising.

NorthernSkylark
May 3rd 2019


9340 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

lies lies lies

Digging: Tricky - Maxinquaye

DoofDoof
May 3rd 2019


3310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

think so Gyro, track 4 is a little weaker on Titanic and I prefer 'From' to any of the Weyes Blood songs from that album.



It is a very well put together album though, I just don't get an overload of personality from it - it's very painterly, I sort of stand back and appreciate the textures, colours and composition.

DoofDoof
May 3rd 2019


3310 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Like the change of tone in 'Betsy' - the music, playing and composition remind me of early Sun Kil Moon a bit.



Honestly the run from 'Betsy' to 'Jenni' is nearly as good as the opening four.



Guess the weakness is what's in between hasn't snagged me quite as much so far after two listens

Lucman
May 3rd 2019


2506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Didn't really pay much attention to their previous album. This is sounding real good so far. This year has just been stellar for folk, gotta tell ya.

Digging: Shiina Ringo - Shouso Strip



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