Brooklyn’s own, Big Thief, return with Capacity an outstanding sophomore effort released exactly one year since their debut dropped…kudos for the quick turnaround, kids.

The album kicks off with the delicate “Pretty Things,” an intimate meditation on the vagaries of love. Adrianne Lenker’s insouciant coo floats above the gentle strum of her acoustic guitar. It’s a spare, haunting piece which allows her evocative prose to really shine through. “Don’t take me for a fool/there’s a woman inside of me/there’s one inside of you too”…not that there’s anything wrong with that! Lenker writes her lyrics with a journalistic punch that perfectly complements the immediacy of the instrumentation. Her voice is whisper soft, yet, ably cuts through the mostly acoustic arrangements.

“Shark Smile” is another solid track that starts with a jagged wash of guitar stabs, before settling in on a late ‘70s-era Fleetwood Mac groove. Again, the lyrics are really quite fantastic: ”She was a shark smile in a yellow van.” Good stuff, though the melody is a bit of a rip on Mazzy Star’s “Fade into You”.

Other standouts are:

  • The moody “watering” shows off Lenker’s panache for crafting taut, vivid tales (he cut off my oxygen/and my eyes were watering/as he tore into my skin like a lion)
  • “Coma” is a haunting folk tune that shifts its rhythms and melodies with seamless ease, building the tension just long enough to fade into the ether
  • “Great White Shark” plays with odd time and tosses in a bit of Brasilia and film noir…a dreamy ditty
  • “Haley” features some of the tastiest drum work I’ve heard in quite a while

Nearly halfway through the year and Capacity has broken from the pack. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on many a “Best of” list come December. It’s a masterpiece of understatement…an album you’d hear pumped through the speakers of a Leonard Cohen afterworld.

8.5 Colossal

It’s a masterpiece of understatement...an album you’d hear pumped through the speakers of a Leonard Cohen afterworld.    

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