3 years and a global pandemic after they dropped two LP’s back to back, Big Thief return with a double LP titled “Dragon New Warm Mountain, I Believe In You” (that’s a mouthful) and it’s by far their best work to date.
This double album was recorded in 4 different locations; New York, California, Colorado and Arizona. Each new place they recorded songs at brought out a different side of the band and shows exactly how versatile of a band they can sound. From the 4 different places they recorded, they culminated 45 different songs which got cut down to 20; making Dragon New Warm Mountain.
To quote, Big Thief’s objective with this album was “to record a rambling amount of growth as individuals, musicians, and chosen family” and you cannot say after listening to this that they haven’t smashed their goal. 3 of the 4 members released solo albums in 2020 and yet, they come back to each other and bring out the best in each other. They feel like a family who have grown up all together in the same household playing their instruments and singing around the house yet they only established in 2015. 7 years and 4 albums later, they have created their magnum opus.
Over this 80 minute runtime, Big Thief take you on a journey through folk to americana to indie rock cuts. On this album, Adrianne’s lyricism is at an all time high. Lenker is able to create such vivid imagery over this album. Like the track “Sparrow”, Adrianne opens up the track describing the image of its title, “Beak is as sharp as an arrow”. On “Simulation Swarm”, Adrianne sings “I remember building an energy shield in your room” and as soon as she says that line, you can envision exactly that, even if you don’t exactly know what an energy shield is. Painting a picture with very few lyrics is Lenker’s strongest attribute, not to discredit her vocal performances across the 20 song project.
On songs like the title track, Lenker’s voice is like a warm hug, an invitation to cry on her shoulder while she whispers in your ear that she believes in you even when you don’t believe in yourself. In contrast, “Spud Infinity” shows the other side to the voice of Lenker. She belts with a country twang in her voice during the chorus leaving it impossible for you to not sing along.
Not to just focus on Adrianne Lenker, the production on this album is amazing! we can go from intimate string plucking ballads to full country bangers. Take “Spud Infinity”, where Adrianne’s brother Noah plays the harp and the intro to “Time Escaping” with the overwhelming amount of string plucking and pulling is happening. “Flower of Blood” fills the ears with this MBV-like instrumentation and midpoint track “Red Moon” returns to its americana sound with a beautiful acoustic guitar and strings to accompany. Over the 20 tracks, the band don’t run stale with different ideas instrumentally and every song is refreshing one after another.
“Promise is a Pendulum” is a huge standout track for me! it reminds me of “Seven Swans” era Sufjan Stevens. Lenker and the guitar alone makes such raw and ethereal magic. Her gentle vocal delivery creates a teary eye. Same with “The Only Place” which is another highlight, nothing beats some lyrics that pull at your heart strings while Lenker croons into your ear.
No matter where this album goes next, you’re strapped in for the next journey. Buck, James, Jason and Adrianne are at their peak artistry right now, and not many can say that after releasing 4 albums in 3 years while touring the world nonstop.
This newest endeavor from Big Thief is bundle of raw energy from the bands 4 members coming together with their best attributes; building an energy shield of music you could say. This raw energy is something we have been missing since the start of this pandemic, and that’s exactly what makes this album so special. All it took was for the members of Big Thief to pick up their instruments and start playing to create pure magic.
This album also cements them as a legendary indie folk / indie rock band: one that are not afraid to dabble and experiment in other genres so effortlessly.
Big Thief has brought back the care-free sound of pre-pandemic normality on this genre sprawling double album that will attempted to be replicated in the years to come.
|1||Change / 86|
|2||Time Escaping / 88|
|3||Spud Infinity / 92|
|4||Certainty / 85|
|5||Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You / 96|
|6||Sparrow / 95|
|7||Little Things / 91|
|8||Heavy Bend / 92|
|9||Flower of Blood / 84|
|10||Blurred View / 82|
|11||Red Moon / 89|
|12||Dried Roses / 80|
|13||No Reason / 94|
|14||Wake Me up to Drive / 88|
|15||Promise Is a Pendulum / 90|
|16||12,000 Lines / 86|
|17||Simulation Swarm / 96|
|18||Love Love Love / 85|
|19||The Only Place / 95|
|20||Blue Lightning / 87|