By Phil Scarisbrick
If there is one group whose creative trajectory hit an unquantifiably steep upward spiral in the latter half of the last decade, it is Brooklyn-based, sonic juggaernaut, Big Thief. Building on the rather wonderful Capacity, they released two of the best albums of 2019 in UFOF and Two Hands. Preceding them though, was abysskiss. Released at the tail end of 2018, Adrianne Lenker’s third solo album raised the bar with its subtle, skeletal arrangements that embodied the vulnerability that Lenker’s words conveyed. Now she has announced her return with two new records coming out called songs and instrumentals.
Preceded by the customary lead single, songs is the first record we get a glimpse of through anything. As the first few notes find their feet, it is immediately obvious that the sonic direction is a departure from abysskiss. While still acoustic guitar based, its layers create a soundtrack that is more vibrant than its predecessor, and despite there being little by way of dynamic, the interplaying instruments are a beautiful enough soundtrack to allow the words to do all the ebbing and flowing needed.
The beauty of Lenker’s lyrics have always been full of visceral power, and anything is no different. ‘Hanging your jeans with a clothes pin, skin still wet still on my skin/Mango in your mouth, juice dripping/Shoulder of your shirtsleeve slipping,‘ she sings, setting a simple scene for the listener to get lost in. Though the sound has developed, Lenker’s vulnerability is still prevalent in the lyrics as she sings, ‘I don’t wanna talk about anyone/I wanna sleep in your car while you’re driving/Lay on your lap when I’m crying‘.
This simple, heartbreaking chorus is another reminder of what a unique talent Lenker is. And although 2019 saw her ‘day job’ go to a new level, 2020 looks like doing nothing to suggest that was a one off.
songs and instrumentals are released through 4AD on 23rd October.
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