Big Thief Credit: Courtesy the Artist

If Big Thief had only given us May’s U.F.O.F., they already would’ve been one of the most compelling indie bands of 2019. Then in August, the folk-leaning Brooklyn four-piece dropped the feverish, slow-boiling rocker “Not” and announced the release of another full-length, the brand-new Two Hands (4AD). The albums feel tethered together, as if they’re responding to each other. Big Thief recorded U.F.O.F. just outside Seattle with engineer Dom Monks and producer Andrew Sarlo, wrestling together stripped-down melodies that alternate between fragile and austere; front woman Adrianne Lenker balances the two on the otherworldly “From” when her trembling voice breaks into a growl. U.F.O.F. is so hushed that it sometimes sounds like a car radio when you’re driving along the edge of a station’s reach; by contrast, Two Hands comes through clearly. Recorded in the Texas border town of Tornillo, also with Monks and Sarlo, the newer album doesn’t quite push the volume to 11, but everything is bigger in Texas—Big Thief perform these warm, rangy songs with enough force to let you know they could break eardrums if they wanted. Thankfully they care more about enchanting their listeners than punishing them, and the arpeggiating guitar that courses through the title track of Two Hands perfectly demonstrates the band’s magnetism.   v