This Friday sees the release of Big Thief‘s Two Hands, their LP, hot off the release of U.F.O.F. Big Thief’s second release in 2019, Two Hands is compiled of Side A and Side B, reminiscent of listening to vinyl. Delicate and somewhat ethereal the album is a joy to listen from start to finish.
Immediately after releasing U.F.O.F. (aka “the celestial twin”), the band travelled to an opposite landscape to begin work on its sister record, considered “the earth twin,” Two Hands. Thirty miles west of El Paso, surrounded by 3,000 acres of pecan orchards and only a stone’s throw from the Mexican border fence, Big Thief set up their instruments to start working on this beautiful collection and compilation of tracks. In sharp contrast to the environment of U.F.O.F., the Sonic Ranch studio was chosen for its vast desert location. The 105-degree weather boiled away any clinging memories of the green trees and wet air of the last session.
Two Hands, as a result of this polar opposite setting, is entirely different, an album about the earth and the bones beneath it. Recorded live with almost no overdubs, there’s a soulful element to the LP that wouldn’t come off it was a tad more polished. With folk elements and occasional discordant yet ethereal bass, Two Hands often possesses a raw sound. This is not unwelcolmed, adding a vulnerability that intimately pulls you in to the record.
All but two tracks feature entirely live vocal takes, leaving Adrianne’s voice sounding vulnerable, adding to the intimate levels of the record. Where U.F.O.F. layered mysterious sounds and effects for levitation, Two Hands grounds itself sounds dried out and raw, like the desert. Forgotten Eyes establishes the sound of Two Hands, fragiliity bare, pathos heightened. The Toy is textural, stunning and wondrously anecdotal. Two Hands, title track, percussive and warm is a stand-out track on this album, with no letting up of this reflective poignancy. Side B also holds some splendour, Shoulders an intimate single about death, Not an antsy track with a restlessness sitting at the heart of it.
All in all, despite it’s differences from the debut album, Two Hands reinforces the stunningly talented yet delicacy of Big Thief’s music, and rendered me more than curious about their next move.
Two Hands is out today, via 4AD.