AOTY 2019

Masterpiece

Big Thief - Masterpiece
Critic Score
Based on 11 reviews
2016 Ratings: #122 / 763
User Score
Based on 193 ratings
2016 Ratings: #111
May 27, 2016 / Release Date
LP / Format
Saddle Creek / Label
Indie Rock / Genres
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bigthief.net / Website
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CRITIC REVIEWS

82
Paste
Big Thief ultimately nail the different shades of reckoning and self-introspection on their Saddle Creek debut. Many listeners will no doubt identify with and see pieces of their own struggles inside this album.
80
Exclaim!

Masterpiece may be flawed, but try to think of a magnum opus, or a life, that isn't. The most exciting part is that it's likely Big Thief's best is yet to come.

80
AllMusic
Rhythmically a balanced mix of energetic grooves and melancholy explorations, the album is wall-to-wall artful expression that finds a songwriter thriving as part of a four-piece.
80
DIY
Expect this to be the start of a huge career, even if this really is their ‘Masterpiece’.
80
PopMatters

What makes Masterpiece such an engrossing listen is how they regulate the songs to their bare essentials even when they’re at their most dynamic. Big Thief is a band that understands that there’s much to explore within life’s empty spaces, to never underestimate what’s not readily there and occupy it with grand, though modest, gestures.

77
Pitchfork

On the rangy folk-rock band Big Thief's Saddle Creek debut Masterpiece, the songs sound cherry-picked over a lifetime of writing, the stories carefully compiled.

76
Sputnikmusic
Modern folk fans take note; it’s not every day we get the pleasure of hearing such an accomplished debut.
70
Spin
Lenker isn’t the room-swallowing presence that Quinlan is, but she more than makes up for it in commanding songcraft, which skews dynamic (“Animals”), dissonant (“Interstate”), and placid (“Little Arrow”) without ever changing its sepia tone.
70
Clash
Simply put, Big Thief’s debut is a most pleasant surprise; a rich treasure trove of story and seduction.
70
Rolling Stone
Even when the road backwards gets unbearably dark, this record feels like a hero's journey.
MySoftBulletin
72
+10pts for dinosaur
-10pts for bird
EntryIncomplete
84
I am so in love with the sound on this, Big Thief's music is both powerful and restrained, carrying the themes of love, loss and heartbreak. Forgetting to mention the fantastic and mesmerizing vocalist would be a sin, as she is easily one of the best elements of Masterpiece. But she wouldn't be all that without her band, and oh boy can they play. From hefty blues rock with some real grit, to soft, quiet folk to calm the soul. Masterpiece is how to do a proper debut, a fresh take on an age old ... read more
musicmagpie55
72
They are so good at playing their instruments that I forget to listen to the words. Big Thief has been chugging along the last few years, but Masterpiece is a strong debut from a band that has only gotten better. Lenker's vocals are probably my favorite on this album.
BuffaloStaple
62
second half is better than the first, overall though it's aight. These guys definitely have a lot of potential.
Sadvilliany
83
Beautiful songwriting, the lead female vocalist, Adrianne Lenker, has an absolutely amazing voice. Every song seems so delicate, but it's supported with a very unique and powerful sound. Overall, very solid record, and can't wait for more.
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MISC LISTS

/NPR (First Half)

Track List

  1. Little Arrow
  2. Masterpiece
  3. Vegas
  4. Real Love
  5. Interstate
  6. Lorraine
  7. Paul
  8. Humans
  9. Velvet Ring
  10. Animals
  11. Randy
  12. Parallels
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Added on: March 22, 2016