'U.F.O.F.

'U.F.O.F.' by Big Thief, album review by Mike
'U.F.O.F.' by Big Thief

Our Rating

8.1

U.F.O.F., the final F standing for ‘Friend’, is the name of the highly anticipated third record from the New York-based freak folk rock group, Big Thief. Made up of Adrianne Lenker (guitar, vocals), Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums), the wily quartet has spent the last 4 years on an incessant world tour, exploring the outer reaches of space within their minds and quite possibly communing with aliens.

The resulting recordings are chock full of subconscious narratives that reflect the bands tight-knit aesthetic. Perpetual motion, nightly performance and struggles of the road have led them to develop their own connective language, which has drawn them closer as a musical unit. U.F.O.F is being touted as their first record as a fully realized band, and there certainly is a communal vibe to the tracks. Songs, like ‘Cattails’—written only hours before recording—are smart and punchy, reaching into new territory without feeling contrived. Others tracks, like the awesome “From,” bubble with dense moments of dynamic feedback and palpable spiritual togetherness.

Sprinkles of mystical textures and spiritual desert sky lyricism create a welcome respite from the usual modern folk rock fare. In fact these strangely euphoric reckonings separate Big Thief from the throngs of folk rockers attempting a similar sound. Adrianne Lenker’s vocals are a particular treat on this release, boasting an upfront and honest tone, that suits the quirky lyricism. Characters and scenery interact outside of time. Names of mystery women appear, then disappear. Cruelties flash. Pronouns meld. There is a darkness here, but it’s not one to be feared. “Making friends with the unknown… All my songs are about this,” says Lenker; “If the nature of life is change and impermanence, I’d rather be uncomfortably awake in that truth than lost in denial.”

Indeed, the U.F.O visitors referenced in the album title are treated with utmost respect, spoken about with reverence, as if the band is intent on welcoming these friendly angels to earth via their ethereal hymns. If song writers are spelunkers of the unrevealed, then Lenker is one of the bravest working today – unafraid to probe the depths of her inner world by shining a light into the corners of the universe. This is strange and courageous music.

review by Mike Olinger

May 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Bootleg Theater (SOLD OUT) #
May 5 – Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere (SOLD OUT) **
May 18 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club (SOLD OUT) &
May 19 – Glasgow, UK @ SWG3 &
May 21 – Dublin, IR @ Vicar Street &
May 22 – Manchester, UK @ The Ritz &
May 23 – London, UK @ Roundhouse &
May 24 – Bristol, UK @ SWX &
May 26 – Cambridge, UK @ Cambridge Junction &
May 27 – Paris, FR @ Trabendo &
May 28 – Brussels, BE @ Orangerie (SOLD OUT) &
May 30 – Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Sound
May 31 – Nîmes, FR @ This Is Not a Love Song Festival
June 2 – Amsterdam, NL @ Best Kept Secret
June 3-6 – Marina Di Ravenna, IT @ Beaches Brew Festival
June 3 – Berlin, DE @ Lido (SOLD OUT) &
June 4 – Zurich, CH @ Bogen F &
June 8 – Porto, PT @ NOS Primavera Sound
Aug. 6-10 – Oslo, NO @ Oya Festival
Aug. 8 – Copenhagen, DK @ Lille Vega
Aug. 10 – Helsinki, FI @ Flow Festival
Aug. 12 – Budapest, HU @ Sziget Festival
Aug. 14 – Saint-malo, FR @ Route du Rock
Aug. 15-18 – Wales, UK @ Green Man Festival
Aug. 16 – Hasselt, BE @ Pukkelpop Festival
Oct. 9 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
Oct. 10 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
Oct. 11 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall %
Oct. 12 – South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground %
Oct. 13 – Boston, MA @ Wilbur Theatre %
Oct. 15 – Montreal, QC @ La Tulipe %
Oct. 16 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre %
Oct. 17 – Detroit, MI @ The Majestic Theatre %
Oct. 18 – Chicago, IL @ Metro %
Oct. 19 – Madison, WI @ The Sylvee %
Oct. 21 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue %
Oct. 24 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom %
Oct. 25 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre %
Oct. 26 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre %
Oct. 28 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore %
Oct. 30 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory %
Nov. 1 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom %
Nov. 2 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister %
Nov. 4 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheatre %
Nov. 5 – Dallas, TX @ Trees %
Nov. 7 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse %
Nov. 8 – Saxapahaw, NC @ Haw River Ballroom %
Nov. 9 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer %
Nov. 10 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club %
Nov. 11 – Columbus, OH @ The Athenaeum Theatre %

** = w/ Lomelda
# = w/ Jolie Holland
& = w/ Crake
% = w/ Palehound