Reviews

Big Thief
Two Hands

(4AD)

9/10

Emerging from the wake of Big Thief’s third record, U.F.O.F, released only a few months ago, Two Hands is perhaps the band’s most cohesive and down-to-earth work yet.

Lead singer Adrianne Lenker conceives of the records as non-identical twins; one “celestial”, one of “earth”. The two serve to justify and contextualise each other, as well as to contrast – where U.F.O.F is hazy and dreamlike, Two Hands feels pure, tangible and raw. As ever the fragility of Lenker’s voice contrasts beautifully with the polished virtuosity of the instrumentation, creating a tension unique to the album and the band.

Two Hands is a musical treat, full of aching fervour; sincere and honest without feeling overwrought or affected. It sinks into the lullaby-like opening track ‘Rock and Sing’, followed by a soaring, uplifting ballad, ‘Forgotten Eyes’, on which Lenker implores, “Everybody needs someone and deserves protection”.

It all feels extremely considered, more a carefully put together selection than a showcase of the newest music. The climax is reached midway with ‘Shoulders’ and ‘Not’, both of which have appeared in live sets for the past couple of years, finally finding their home on this record.

Two Hands has the songs that I’m the most proud of,” says Lenker in a statement. “I can imagine myself singing them when I’m old.” It devastates and uplifts in equal measure, a testament to how a band can explore new ideas and styles without losing their distinctive sound.

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