The peak age of this brand kinda-folksy indie rock bands might be behind us. After completely breaking into the mainstream in and around 2012 (see: The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons and The Neighbourhood) fans and critics alike are observing a downturn, not just in general interest in the genre, but also a lack of great creative output. So what makes the new album from Big Thief any different? Their previous LP Masterpiece (although not exactly living up to what the album’s namesake implied) was very good, but simply being ‘very good’ is not going to cut it anymore – especially when a band has already set that bar for themselves.
Their follow-up, Capacity, due out this Friday and currently streaming over at NPR has jumped high over this bar by putting their emphasis back on a vision that lead singer and main songwriters Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek had for this record – to refocus the music to be about themselves. Some of the best songwriting comes out of personal experiences and tragedy (see: Carrie & Lowell – Sufjan Stevens) so when you combine some heartbreaking and emphatic tales about personal experience with such a lazer-like attention to detail, and a musicality that is rare to find in the genre, the results are incredibly beautiful and astonishingly unique.
‘Mythological Beauty’”, the lead single, “reveals the origin of the scar on the right side of my head,” says Lenker. “It is a conversation between parent and child; between child and child; between the child within the parent and the child within the child; and between the parent within the child and the parent within the parent.”
“There is a darker darkness and a lighter light on this album,” Lenker continues. “The songs search for a deeper level of self-acceptance, to embrace the world within and without. I think Masterpiece began that process, as a first reaction from inside the pain, and Capacity continues that examination with a wider perspective.”
The whole album is like a warm shower after a long day. While the album focuses, conceptually, on scars and how they are formed, the effect is knowing more about how they heal and what we do to move on from them.