Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Big Thief: Two Hands [4AD, 2019]
Spare and a touch awkward, short on hook and groove without disrespecting melody or beat, Big Thief prove intensely listenable nonetheless if you give them a chance-and-a-half. Adrianne Lenker's slight, nearly childlike voice is never cute; she emotes with the subtle strength and considered precision of a Berklee scholarship student and avoids the strophic songpoetry now making its latest comeback. On the band's second 2019 album she tends forthright, doing a solid for loyal guitar-bass-drums bandmates with no discernible folk-rock in them. And then--unexpectedly, after six reflective songs--erupts the prematurely climactic six-minute "Not," which tops off its line-by-line catalogue of homely details and existential insufficiencies with a two-guitar freakout that just might blow you away. Listen up, black midi. (Bet they already have.) A-