Big Thief: U.F.O.F.

Justin Jacobs on June 10, 2019

To know of Big Thief is to know the band intimately—there isn’t any room for casual acquaintance with the New York act’s stunningly beautiful, achingly personal rock micro-epics. With the one-two gut punch of Masterpiece and Capacity in 2016 and 2017, songwriter-singer Adrianne Lenker and her perfectly matched band unleashed subtly devastating songs about trauma, abuse, love and death, and quietly forged a devoted, adoring fanbase. They won’t be disappointed with Big Thief’s third album, U.F.O.F. , 12 hypnotizingly gorgeous compositions that largely substitute the roar of Masterpiece with a beguiling, still haunting hush. Lenker’s songs have always felt like secrets she was finally ready to tell. Names and places fill her lyrics, tiny details floating inside her impressionist poetry and through gently flowing melodies. Those precise touches are matched across U.F.O.F. by intricate, nuanced playing, where each repetition leaves its own impression without repeating a chorus. The swelling, delicately picked acoustic guitars, warm and gentle percussion and Lenker’s goosebump-worthy voice were all recorded live in a cabin in rural Washington. These are real-life tunes expertly communicating real-life fears and hopes. In “Terminal Paradise,” with guitars fluttering like falling leaves, when Lenker sings, “Terminal/ We both know/ Let me rest, let me go,” expect your own mortality to hit hard. And in “From,” a song which seems to hover above the earth, Lenker describes, “One ear to your womb… baby’s coming soon/ Wonder if she’ll know where she’s come from.” She’s got all the beauty and mystery of the universe behind her.