Album of the Week: Big Thief, 'Two Hands'


Big Thief, 'Two Hands'
Big Thief, 'Two Hands' (4AD)
Mac Wilson - Album of the Week: Big Thief, 'Two Hands'
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2019 would have been enough of a breakout year for Big Thief solely on the strength of their U.F.O.F. album. They decided, however, to double up and release a second album, Two Hands, which is another stunning addition to their catalog.

U.F.O.F. was recorded in the woods of suburban Seattle, and has a suitably lush and pastoral feel. Two Hands was recorded in the deserts of Texas, and has a suitably harsher and bare feel. Many of the songs on Two Hands sound like they've always existed, buried somewhere near the core of the earth, and simply *presented* to the world, as opposed to being carefully sculpted like those on U.F.O.F.

Several of these songs have been in Big Thief's live repertoire for years, most notably "Not" and "Shoulders." For a band to release a longtime live favorite at this stage would seem to indicate that the band has full belief that these are the definitive versions, and it would be hard to argue that they aren't. The power behind these songs is intimidating, almost terrifying, and has allowed this album to stand strong in the weeks since its fall release.

I noted in the spring that U.F.O.F. could stand as an indie rock landmark of its era, and Two Hands easily stands beside it worthily as its sibling. Big Thief have proved that they can sound brilliant when it sounds like they are taking great care with their music, and also when they sound effortless. Two terrific albums from one great band: what have we done right to deserve Big Thief in 2019?

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