Big Thief only released the subtly immersive ‘UFOF’ back in May, and today (October 11) they return with the equally enrapturing ‘Two Hands’. UFOF possessed an eerie and beautifully unsettling quality, while ‘Two Hands’ is a comforting and dialectic example of how truly beautiful music can be. Adrienne Lenker herself dubbed ‘Two Hands’ as ‘UFOF’s earth twin.
One similarity ‘UFOF’ shares with ‘Two Hands’ is how the songs pair up in a subtle yet decisive way, making the album feel like one big swaying melody. Opener, ‘Rock and Sing’ is that first swaying introduction. “Cry with me, cry with me”, Lenker urges. “Within this body, confused. Confuse my home for a refuge.” Lenker’s deft lyricism clear from the off. She’s also adept in her use of tone. Indeed, with an almost pleading innocence, she sings “I don’t want to lock my door anymore”, outwardly desiring to bear her feelings more openly. ‘Two Hands’ yet again finds her musing about the world with utmost wonder yet generous wisdom, whilst riffing on her spiritual connection to it.
‘Forgotten Eyes’ is reminiscent of Masterpiece-era Big Thief. As is her natural state, Lenker gazes upwards at the sky while all at once contemplating the earth, the soil and the plants surrounding her. It’s a song about the right to comfort, the right to a home, the right to be treated as a human, no matter your origin. The songs ‘Two Hands’ comprises are so complicated and thoughtful that it’s like a novel you keep coming back to again and again. Every listen certain to expose something you’d missed before.
‘Two Hands’, the fast-paced title track, showcases the foursome’s never-ending growth as a band, the instruments meshing together impeccably. It is by far the best on the album. “Two arms and marked up skin / Two hands, places you have been”, Lenker sings.
‘Replaced’ recalls the days when Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek were a duo; Meek’s voice chiming in to create a delightful contrast to Lenker’s vocals during the chorus. Though the words are sometimes difficult to understand, the feeling is there all the same. “Because in your room, we gathered to be replaced by the mystery,” they sing, gently bringing the song down from the sky, and placing it in soft grass.
We are undoubtedly connected to this planet, and with this album, Lenker seems to be transcending and tossing aside the Anthropocene in favour of a more congruous, more compassionate human existence; one where the importance of the world shines brighter than any of us. She shows us her roots deeply planted in the soil, purposeful.