Music: Big Thief Digs Deeper into Darkness to Find a Brighter Light on ‘Capacity’

BigThief_photo-by-Shervin-Lainez
Big Thief—Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek, Max Oleartchik, and James Krivchenia—plays a folk-influenced take on indie rock centered around Lenker’s intimate songwriting. The group’s second album, Capacity, finds Big Thief’s music focusing more intently on that intimacy.

The album’s lead single, “Mythological Beauty,” is quiet and contemplative, recounting a traumatic injury from Lenker’s childhood. She described the song as “a conversation between parent and child; between child and child; the child within the parent and the child within the child; the parent within the child and the parent within the parent.”

“Shark Smile” is one of Capacity‘s livelier tracks. Krivchenia’s drums and Oleartchik’s bass create a propulsive rhythm, appropriately so for the song’s highway-set narrative. The song is upbeat and catchy, which belies the darkness of the lyrics. In Lenker’s words, the song is “the story of a car accident in which one dies and one lives. [The narrator] recalls her lover leading up to the moment of the wreck, wishing she’d been taken into the next realm, too.”

Though Capacity has many dark moments, it includes brighter ones as well. “Mary,” the album’s second-to-last track, is a beautiful piano- and organ-led ode to Lenker’s friend. Speaking with NPR, she discussed the song: “It’s about childhood being brought to life and reignited after the slush of the teenage years.” Perfectly summing up the song, Lenker added, “That song feels like crying and laughing at the same time. That’s what it feels like to me.”

“There is a darker darkness and a lighter light on this album,” Lenker notes. The remarkable thing about Capacity is Big Thief’s ability to examine that darkness and find the light through it.

Big Thief’s Capacity is out now through Saddle Creek Records and is available to purchase on Amazon, iTunes, and Saddle Creek’s online store.

Writer’s Note: In addition to contributing to The Manual, I work at a music promotion company, Distiller Promo, that is currently promoting Capacity.

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