Big Thief replace their gentle acoustic strings with distorted riffs on new album, ‘U.F.O.F’

It's a stunningly immersive listen from the alluring Brooklyn outfit.

Words by Kate Streader

Recorded live in a cabin-like studio in rural Washington, U.F.O.F is a culmination of its habitat; you can almost hear the still, bucolic air nestled within the melodies as Big Thief meander through wistful soundscapes.

Contrary to its predecessors, Masterpiece (2016) and Capacity (2017), U.F.O.F sees distorted riffs replaced with gently plucked acoustic strings. It’s atmospheric and ethereal, though the moments of melodic dissonance we’ve come to expect from the quartet come and go unsuspectingly.

Frontwoman Adrienne Lenker’s voice is almost childlike in its fragile innocence, though her lyrics prove she harbours little naivety about the world around her. ‘Orange’ describes a love so strong, she grieves the very thought of losing it; “Fragile is that I mourn her death/As our limbs are twisting in her bedroom”, she yearns.

‘Cattails’ feels as though it were written from a veranda on a cool summer night while ‘Betsy’ offers a startling change of pace in that Lenker drops her voice so far below its usual delicate twitter that the baritone hum she produces is almost unrecognisable as belonging to her.

Closer ‘Magic Dealer’ is startlingly sparse, pitching Lenker’s soft singing against murmurs of bass and little else.

U.F.O.F is an exploration of the unknown. It beckons the unfamiliar with arms outstretched.