Big Thief - Capacity
Critic Score
Based on 22 reviews
2017 Ratings: #46 / 831
Year End Rank: #18
User Score
Based on 493 ratings
2017 Ratings: #73
Liked by 4 people
June 9, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
Saddle Creek / Label
Indie Rock / Genres
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Loud and Quiet
This music comes from a great American lineage that goes back to the early folk revivalists, but that has been shaped by sounds fired in the kilns of Dylan, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, et al. I do not say it lightly that with ‘Capacity’ Big Thief can proudly sit as worthy baton-carriers of such forebears.

Capacity is both a logical successor to Masterpiece as well as a great leap forward for Big Thief. The chemistry that Lenker and her band have established on album number two is extraordinarily strong, but no matter how good they get, her songwriting seems as though it will forever be raw to the core.

The 405

Overall Capacity is an album brimming over with emotion and love, giving us a sharp and unforgettable insight into this person’s acute view of the human condition.

Under The Radar

When listening to something as beautifully made and heart wrenching as Big Thief's penetrating sophomore album, Capacity, you are taken somewhere beyond the physical, whether walking or sitting or lying down, moving or motionless.


Capacity is a remarkable record, one that proves that Big Thief are not a one trick pony, they are the full circus.

This feels like a more contemplative record than Big Thief’s first.
Northern Transmissions
On Big Thief’s sophomore release they bring in some painfully tender stories, clearly close to their own hearts and make a piece of art all the while, for a record that will make you question how hard your own life is.
The Skinny

Big Thief aren’t the sort of band that will always hit you suddenly, such is their subtlety and restraint, but on Capacity they prove that when they do it’s powerful and memorable.

God Is in the TV

Where debut album Masterpiece wrapped up their sadness in punch-drunk vignettes about stale beer and piss, Capacity explores their songs’ inherent melancholy more fully.


While she still writes entirely from personal experience here, not invoking characters, the act of releasing the band's debut -- a record with moments that hit the musical equivalent of a raw nerve -- along with playing the songs over and over live, provided a sort of healing through immersion that can be heard in the increased composure of Capacity.

No Ripcord

There’s a stunningly transformative quality to Big Thief’s second effort, a feat considering it’s a been a little over a year since the Brooklyn foursome last released their breakthrough debut, Masterpiece.

Rolling Stone
Her Brooklyn group's second set is even prettier and more intense than their 2016 debut, a mix of seductive and scary with lyrical turns that rarely fail to surprise, even on repeated listens.

Themes of surrender, escape and sudden violence run throughout Capacity, the second album from Lenker’s four-piece Big Thief, but one which is ultimately about the capacity of humans to love each other, sometimes suffocatingly, as partners, parents and children.


It’s the kind of record that has an immediate impact, but can also linger over time. It shows a quick growth in confidence from the last record to this one, mostly leaving behind the moments that feel too quiet, too intimate to always connect to from the last record.


There are a lot of songs and stories in Adrianne Lenker’s brain and Capicity can’t hold them all, but the 11 that it does are an excellent evolution in the band’s musical and storytelling progression.

Consequence of Sound

Capacity, the swift follow-up, also no doubt contains ideas that Lenker has had on the back burner for years, but while it shares much with Masterpiece in terms of her carefully detailed excavation of the past and her band’s instrumentation, it has its own urgent stories to tell.

A.V. Club

On Capacity, Big Thief’s stunning and subtle sophomore record, Lenker positions herself as one of indie rock’s most gut-wrenchingly resonant songwriters.

Drowned in Sound

If we’re being honest, Capacity is simply a better record than Masterpiece. No contest. The catchy songs are catchier; the melodies are tighter; the peaks and troughs dip higher and lower.

Big Thief just does something to me.

An outstretched hand. I grasped it and here I was, received the most dignified welcome I have ever received from my WhatTheFunk memory. Received not as a host or a prince, but as a friend. No need for caresses in the direction of hair, it will have been enough for my host to show me a vacant place next to her, on the ground, and I sat there, in front of a campfire, I shyly sweep the surrounding wood with my eyes. Adrianne started blowing on the embers, her ... read more
Big Thief has the potential to make something big. I believe they do. We can see it in the first three songs which are really good. There are glimpses of greatness throughout all this album but some of the songs just lead to nowhere. That’s my big issue with this album. Overall, it’s a nice relaxing experience.

Favorite Tracks: Pretty Things, Shark Smile, Capacity, Great White Shark, Mary

Least Favorite Tracks: Mythological Beauty, Objects
2017 was the year I really started to expand on my previous interest in music. I started reading Pitchfork all the time because I didn't really know any other way to find quality music at that time. Big Thief stood out quite a bit, with their 83 rating, and their cute and standout cover. The music, sure, was pleasant. But I didn't really get it, if that's one way to put it.

A few years removed now and I've been reviewing music for somewhere around a year now. That isn't to say I've mastered ... read more
Powerful indie rock/folk album that brings the wordy storytelling of 00s indie acts like Bright Eyes down to earth by fusing it with the more intimate, uncomfortably personal approach of singer-songwriters from the past 5 years or so. The biggest pluses are the impressive guitarwork, the unconventional song structures, the singer's voice (which sounds kind of like a grittier Joanna Newsom to me), the dusty, Midwestern indie (almost emo) sound and--especially--the lyrics, which range from ... read more
Good god...this is so beautiful. Possibly Big Thief's best, which makes me even more upset that I didn't check this out sooner.

It captures this oddly specific nostalgic feeling of a hot late summer afternoon, your youthful exuberance taking hold as you forget the worries of your adolescence to soon follow, as you hunker down in the basement of a friend's house shooting the shit, possibly getting a little emotional in the process, recounting the stories that shaped you into the person you are ... read more
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Track List

  1. Pretty Things
  2. Shark Smile
  3. Capacity
  4. Watering
  5. Coma
  6. Great White Shark
  7. Mythological Beauty
  8. Objects
  9. Haley
  10. Mary
  11. Black Diamonds
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Added on: May 5, 2017