BIG THIEF Two Hands gets 8.5/10

Big Thief
Two Hands
4AD/Remote Control


Brooklyn band Big Thief had their tongues firmly in their cheeks when they titled their debut album Masterpiece. To date though, it has been something of a self-fulfilling prophecy with each of their following albums not quite capturing the heights of their debut. Even a solo release by frontwoman Adrianne Lenker during this period was underwhelming. That is all about to change with the release of Two Hands, a feat made even more remarkable by the fact that the band’s fourth album comes only five months after their previous release, UFOF from earlier this year. 

Two Hands was recorded in the Texan desert, with the setting clearly having an influence over the earthy recording. The band made a conscious effort for the album to sound raw, dry and bare, so as to be more reflective of their live shows. Forgotten Eyes lopes along to have a slacker folk feel to it, driven home by Lenker’s affected drawl, some well-placed guitar flourishes from Buck Meek and a sloppy ending that only adds to the appeal.

Darkness simmering throughout the album and it comes to the fore during Shoulders. The often poetic Lenker offers the line “the blood of the man who killed my mother with his hands is in me,” in her most sinister lyrics to date. With most of the vocals on the album done in one take, Shoulders is the big beneficiary with the result being a fervent and earthy tune that is hard to shake.

The band find some extra grit for Not, hitting a volume that is rare for them. The Toy sees Big Thief veering into similar territory to that trodden by Cowboy Junkies with fine results, and Lenker revisits her roots during the precisely plucked Wolf. While Big Thief have always found engaging lyrical content, they have also been able to back it up with nimble tunefulness and rustic arrangements during these 10 tracks.

Big Thief haven’t been coy in saying that these are the best songs that they have written. You would be hard-pressed to find an argument to counter them. Two Hands is the record that they have been promising to make, yet until now had fallen short. This album may be titled Two Hands, but make no mistake, this is Big Thief’s masterpiece.