Big Thief’s ‘Shark Smile’ Is A Psych-Rock Stunner That Confronts Death Head On

Managing Editor, Music
05.08.17

Big Thief’s 2016 debut was called Masterpiece, which might have felt a bit presumptuous to some, that is, until you pressed play on the record. The
Brooklyn group’s first album was full of loose, viscous tracks about coming of age, and growing into yourself that flirted the line between folk and psych-rock with an unrelenting drive.

Building off the momentum that album created, the group are already back with a follow-up not even a year later. From what I’ve heard so far, Capacity goes a bit deeper into a specific personal story written by the group’s frontwoman, Adrianne Lenker, who has a fairly unconventional backstory. She grew up in a religious cult, and her family lived in vans and various temporary places on their way out of that situation.

After the lead out silvery single on the record, “Mythological Beauty,” today the band have shared “Shark Smile,” which is more upbeat, but also more agonizing than the first track. According to Lenker, it’s a song she wrote about two people getting into a car accident that has different fates for the two different people involved.

“‘Shark Smile’ is the story of a car accident in which one dies and one lives,” she wrote in a press release. “She recalls her lover leading up to the moment of the wreck, wishing she’d been taken into the next realm, too.” Needless to say, it’s a bit heavy, and the careening electric guitar scratching through the background amps up the sense of urgency, while Lenker’s voice makes the story feel intimate and close. The whole thing hinged on the flippancy of the chorus, a moment between life and death: “As she said woo / baby take me / I said woo / baby take me too
.”

Listen above and watch for more from this band leading up to the summer release of their sophomore album.

Capacity is out 6/9 via Saddle Creek. Pre-order it here.

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