American folk-rockers Big Thief made waves earlier this year with their third LP U.F.O.F., gaining critical acclaim for the record. Just six months on, the foursome have followed up with Two Hands, but it doesn’t live up to its predecessor.
The record begins at a sleepy pace with the soothing, guitar-led lullabies Rock And Sing and The Toy. With their repetitive and breathy vocals, these tracks are very much background music, with nothing really standing out from the group’s loose, reflective palette.
It does pick up a little. The shuffling rhythms of the title track allow for a more emotive performance from singer Adrianne Lenker. Replaced is a laid-back country-rock duet that feels just like a warm hug, while Not is much more impassioned, with hazy overdriven guitars.
Meanwhile, Shoulders gives a grittier edge to a plodding country riff, which evolves into a beautiful crescendo as Lenker sings, “So touch my skin and tell me where you’ve been/You showed me how to hold my sin/And kiss the bad ways I have been.”
Unfortunately, the slow-picking of Wolf and closer Cut My Hair take the album back to the dreary nothingness that it started it.
There are pleasant moments here, but Two Hands feels like Big Thief have stolen a lot of stale leftovers from previous album recording sessions.