Adrianne Lenker is the metaphorical, storytelling mastermind behind indie-rock band Big Thief
's captivating music. Lenker's autobiographical tales are brought to life with the help of Buck Meek on guitar, Max Oleartchik on bass, and James Krivchenia on drums and the group comes together to create music that draws you into the very real world of Lenker's experiences and thoughts. Their debut album Masterpiece
was released through Saddle Creek in May of 2016 and features their most popular track, "Paul." Now, only a year later, Big Thief has returned with their sophomore album Capacity
, which carries the same aura of nonspecific yet all encompassing emotion as their previous project.
The leading singles of the album are "Shark Smile" and "Mythological Beauty" which provide a wonderful display of the two contrasting sides of the album. "Shark Smile" is a bit overwhelming in the very beginning, which makes it so much more fun than the slower, melancholic tracks on the album. The chorus is simple yet captivating, allowing for a break between the ever eventful verses. "Mythological Beauty" is a movie in and of itself, exploring the battles of raising a child as a young adult and getting extremely personal with the mention of an earlier child being given up for adoption. The character of Lenker's mother appears once again in "Coma" as she sings, "you can wake up now mama / from your protective coma."
This track delves a little deeper into the emotional field, speaking of the possibilities of recognition following drastic and subtle changes over time.
The first song on the album, "Pretty Things," begins with a simple guitar track and introduces a submissive relationship with a presumed lover, as Lenker sings, "I'll take care and make all your wishes come true / if you want to."
This relationship continues on the album's title track, as she offers herself in the chorus with "do what you want with me / lost in your captivity."
This doesn't sound like the healthiest of relationships, but, you know, whatever works. Things take a turn in the rock track "Watering," where there is so much
going on. Screaming. Blood dripping into mouths. Oxygen being cut off. A visual for this would be much appreciated–assuming most of the scenes here are metaphorical, it wouldn't be too graphic. Lenker takes back her control in "Black Diamonds," the last track on the album, as she questions, "should I let you take the women of me? Should I let you take the mystery from me?"
(No, you shouldn't. This relationship sounds toxic).
The instrumental buildup found in the middle of "Great White Shark" gets your heart racing before the song returns to the quiet pairing of Adrianne's vocals with Meek's guitar and Oleartchik's bass. On "Objects," their instrumental talents take the song to an entirely new level with a unique and pleasingly different sound. They do this again in "Haley," this album's surefire banger with an ever so pleasing chorus carrying an assuring message, "if you ever want to come back / you know my arms are always open."
Slowing it down a bit, I saved "Mary" for last, because it is legitimately 5 and a half minutes of pure bliss with the most beautiful flow. Lenker belts out various poetic figures of speech in this piano driven melody in which she compares her brain to an orchestra that plays hide and seek.
is the perfect follow up album that shows how much Big Thief has grown since the release of their first album. This level of quality so early on in their career shows more than enough promise to keep fans coming back for more in the future. I mean, think about it: this is only album number 2 and we've already have been given something as beautiful and poetic as "Mary" and something as entrancing as "Haley"–it's only going to get better from here.