MUSIC

All the Lyrics on Big Thief's U.F.O.F.

Adrienne Lenker's lyrics are the sort that need to be read, reread, painted on your bedroom wall, tattooed on your forehead, and read again before you even begin to take in their full majesty.

Big Thief's sophomore release, Capacity, was a virtuosic album that spun family traumas into quiet, mystical hymns.

Their newest release, U.F.O.F., builds on that formula, winding complex melodies into cohesive, restrained folk songs to create music that sounds much more simple than it is.

While Capacity sulked in the shadows of the past, U.F.O.F. leaves that decayed house of memory walks out into the summer air, and turns its eyes to the sky. Its lyrics explore death, terminal illness, and the desire to escape or transcend the limits of human life and consciousness. Ultimately, the album is about the vast, unknowable things that flicker on the edges of ordinary reality and promise the existence of something beyond.

In some ways, U.F.O.F. seems like it's meant to be listened to in complete silence, perhaps played out on staticky speakers in an abandoned lakeside mansion. Pensive, abstract, and full of longing, it almost seems like a living thing, ready to be peeled apart, mulled over, and shaped to fit each listener's experiences. Though some of its earlier songs are jagged and abstract, the music in grows more and more powerful and pleasing to the ear as the album progresses.

One highlight is "Terminal Paradise," a song that starts softly but builds up to a rustle of bell-like tones and jingling guitar patterns. The track feels somewhat like the stirrings of an early autumn wind, the scent of impending rain, or the breathless feeling of a plane taking off. "Jenni" is a powerful follow-up, a tangle of screaming guitar tones and slow drum beats.

The album's final track, "Magic Dealer," winds everything together. "I am the photograph in you, still as the moment we're lying in right now," whispers the band's lead singer, Adrienne Lenker. That lyric could encapsulate all of U.F.O.F., which, for all its winding rhythms and secret passageways, never feels rushed or urgent. Instead, it feels sort of like lying in someone's arms and ignoring the entire world, feeling the persistent chill of an impending ending, trying to hold onto a moment as it rushes away.

Despite the beauty of its music, the album is truly remarkable because of the quality of its lyrics. Lenker shines more lyrically than vocally on U.F.O.F. She has an uncanny talent for putting breathtaking words in strategic places—a silkworm here, you have wings of gold/you will never grow old there, a crystal between quotidian descriptions of suburban nights. In her ability to make pure poetry sound effortless and genuine, Lenker may be one of the closest lyricists to Leonard Cohen that we have today.

Despite their beauty, the lyrics are sometimes inaudible, at times so wispy that even quiet guitar plucking buries them. Perhaps that's on purpose—maybe this album is more about the music, especially since Lenker's solo album, abysskiss, allowed her words to take center stage. Maybe it was meant to be this way, designed so only certain phrases make it out of the fray, so fragments of poetry appear like lamplights on a misty road.

Though sometimes the lyrics are unintelligible, they are so heart-stoppingly gorgeous that it would be a shame for them to go unnoticed. So, without further ado, here are the lyrics to every song on U.F.O.F. (with my personal favorites in bold).

Contact

[Verse 1]

Jodi
Please turn the pages for me
You seem so free
You know I'm barely, barely

[Verse 2]
Wrap me in silk
I want to drink your milk
You hold the key
You know I'm barely, barely

[Verse 3]
Parker Lake Beach
All of the sunnys swimming
I wanna see
To feel my body sinking, sinking

[Verse 4]
She gives me gills
Helps me forgive the pills
She makes me sing
She is both dreamer and dream
And dream, and dream, and dream


UFOF

Big Thief - UFOF (Official Audio) www.youtube.com


[Verse 1]
To my UFO friend
Goodbye, goodbye
Like a seed in the wind
She's taking up root in the sky

See her flickering
Her system won't even try
To defend and ripen
In the radio action

[Chorus]
She'll never return again
Polarize, polarize
The seasons will bend
There will soon be proof
That there is no alien
Just a system of truth and lies
The reason, the language
And the law of attraction

[Verse 2]
Just like a bad dream
You'll disappear
Another map turns blue
Mirror on mirror
And I imagine you
Taking me outta here
To deepen our love
It isn't even a fraction

[Chorus]
Switch to another lens
The last sunlight
I don't need any other friends
The best kiss I ever had is the flickering
Of the water so clear and bright
To leap in, my skin
And I could feel the reaction

[Chorus}
Just like a bad dream
You'll disappear
Another map turns blue
Mirror on mirror
And I imagine you
Taking me outta here
To deepen our love
It isn't even a fraction


Cattails

Big Thief - Cattails (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

[Verse 1]

And the clusters fell like an empty bell
Meteor shower at the motel
Where the empty space is a saving grace
Making good time and doing well
Still the question sings like Saturn's rings
Maybe she knows and she won't tell

Caroline, Caroline
I never could leave you to struggle
Hold the line, hold the line
I'll be there on the double
In time, in time
Everyone does see trouble

[Chorus]
And you don't need to know why when you cry
You don't need to know why
You don't need to know why when you cry

[Verse 2]
Violet's eyes, Violet plays
Going back home to the Great Lakes
Where the cattail sways
With the lonesome loon
Riding that train in late June

[Chorus]
With the windows wide by my side
With the windows wide
With the windows wide by my side

[Verse 3]
And the clusters fell like an empty bell
Meteor shower at the motel
Where the empty space is a saving grace
Making good time and doing well
Still the question sings like Saturn's rings
Maybe she knows and she won't tell

[Chorus]
But you don't need to know why when you cry
You don't need to know why
You don't need to know why when you cry

[Verse 4]
And I find you there in your country flair
Middle of the river in a lawn chair
With your wrinkled hands and your silver hair
Leaving here soon and you know where
To where the cattail sways with the lonesome loon
You'll be riding that train in late June

[Chorus]
With the windows wide by your side
With the windows wide
With the windows wide by your side
You don't need to know why
You don't need to know why when you cry


Open Desert


[Verse 1]
Vacant angel, crimson light
Darkened eyelash, darkened eye
The white light of the living room
Leaking through the crack in the door
There was never need for more
Things we're meant to understand

Crawling closer to your hand

[Chorus]
To the poison image
Brave surrender
Kiss the water

[Verse 2]
After all my teeth are gone
After all the blood is drawn
The white light of the waiting room
Leaking through the crack in the door

[Chorus]
Through the poison image
Brave surrender
Kiss the water

[Outro]
Through the mirror, mountain view
She has one green, one eye blue
I can see her smiling through
The white light of the living room
Leaking through the crack in the door
The white light of the living room
Leaking through the crack in the door
There was never need for more
Things we're meant to understand


Orange


[Verse 1]

Orange is the color of my love
Fragile orange wind in the garden
Fragile means that I can hear her flesh
Crying little rivers in her forearm
Fragile is that I mourn her death
As our limbs are twisting in her bedroom

[Chorus]
Lies, lies, lies
Lies in her eyes
Lies, lies, lies
Lies in her eyes

[Verse 2]
She tells me to close and count to ten
As she wanders freely through the forest
Can I close and open once again?
The question that I seek for reassurance
[Chorus]
Lies, lies, lies
Lies in her eyes
Lies, lies, lies
Lies in her eyes

[Verse 3]
Hound dogs crowing at the stars above
Pigeons fall like snowflakes at the border
She kneels down and holds the frozen dove
Moon drips like water from her shoulder

[Chorus]
Flies, flies, flies
Flies from her eyes
Flies, flies, flies
Flies from her eyes

[Outro]
Orange is the color of my love
Fragile orange wind in the garden
Fragile means that I can hear her flesh
Crying little rivers in her forearm
Fragile is that I mourn her death
As our limbs are twisting in her bedroom


Century

Big Thief - Century (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

[Verse 1]
Dogs eyes in the headlights of the driveway
Cool autumn rain
Bugs died on your windshield on the freeway
Wonder if you'll be the same
Centuries flower

[Chorus]
And we have the same power
We have the same power
We have the same power
We have the same power

[Verse 2]
Moth flies in the window of the kitchen
You hang up your coat
Cold lips and gold eyes listen
There's something that I want you to know
Turn on the shower

[Chorus]
'Cause we have the same power
We have the same power
We have the same power
We have the same power

[Verse 3]
No resolution, no circling dove
Still caught in the jaw of confusion
Don't know what I'd do for love
But stay another hour

[Chorus]
'Cause we have the same power
We have the same power
We have the same power
We have the same power


Strange


[Verse 1]

Doesn't it seem strange
Searching for a hidden page
The fairy's cage
Coming of true age
Leave the costume on the stage
The silkworm's rage
Iridescent thread, beautiful and dead
Billions of worms were boiled to make the bed

[Chorus]
Strange, see the luna moth cry
Lime green tears through the fruit bat's eyes

[Verse 2]
Scatter and destroy
Every power you enjoy
To lay with the void
Twirling of the dime, splitting of the mind
Drawing constellations 'til the stars align

[Chorus]
Strange, see the luna moth cry (Cry)
Lime green tears through the fruit bat's eyes (Eyes)

[Outro]
You have wings of gold
You will never grow old
And turquoise lungs
You have never been young
You have wings of gold
You will never grow old
And turquoise lungs
You have never been young
The silkworm's rage
Iridescent thread, beautiful and dead
Billions of worms were boiled to make the bed
Strange, see the luna moth cry
Lime green tears through the fruit bat's eyes


terminal paradise


[Verse 1]
Driving through the night
Rings of crystal, crystal light
Every gulp of the warm suburb air
Betsy's auburn, auburn hair
[Refrain]

Ooh, ooh

[Verse 2]
Drive into New York with me
How she keeps me calm
Street lights, boys and poison palms

[Refrain]
Ooh, ooh

[Bridge]
Drive into New York with me
Big lights in the city
[Refrain]
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh

See my death become a trail
And the trail leads to a flower
I will blossom in your sail
Every dreamed and waking hour


Jenni


[Verse 1]
Too hot to breathe
Too hot to breathe

Too hot to breathe

[Chorus]
Jenni's in my room
Jenni's in my room
Jenni's in my room

[Verse 2]
Her skin so bare
The fragrant air
Her vacant eye

[Chorus]
Jenni's in my room
Jenni's in my room
Jenni's in my room

[Verse 3]
The signal swarms
The portal forms
She calls me through

[Chorus]
Jenni's in my room
Jenni's in my room
Jenni's in my room


Magic Dealer

[Verse 1]

Starve, magic mirror
I thought the crumbs of your life wouldn't dry
It hurts to see clearer

Falling like needles, the passage of time

[Chorus]
Would it hurt, would it hurt to be nearer?
Heaven is stitching across me
My chest is the crossing
The blood is parting all the time, but I don't mind

[Verse 2]
Carve magic dealer
Bring me the company I couldn't buy
As I go cleaner
Falling like needles, the passage of time

[Chorus]
Would it help, would it help to go deeper?
I am the photograph in you
The photograph in you
Still as the moment we're lying in right now
Starve, magic mirror
I thought the crumbs of your life wouldn't dry
It hurts to see clearer
Falling like needles, the passage of time


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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MUSIC

Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast Spins Indie Songs Into Music Video Gold

The musician directed the video for Charly Bliss's new single Capacity, the latest in a string of gorgeous videos helping to solidify her reputation as a star in multiple mediums.

"I was watching a lot of heist movies at the time," said director Michelle Zauner of her work on the music video for indie pop up-and-comers Charly Bliss's new single Capacity, released today. With its dizzying series of shots featuring neon cacti, speeding cars, blurry TV screens, and plenty of cash, the video plays on all the best tropes of kitschy-crime 80's shows and films like Twin Peaks and Badlands in a display of what's becoming its director's signature style: dreamy slow-motion sequences and vaguely cultish imagery that both leans into and laughs at vintage pop culture's most extravagant excesses.

Charly Bliss - Capacity [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com

The video is another installment in the growing body of directorial work for which Zauner, most famous for her excellent solo work as psychedelic-indie-rock musician Japanese Breakfast, is becoming increasingly noted. Alongside frequent collaborator Adam Kolodny, she directed the videos for Jay Som's "The Bus Song," which captures a blissfully homey Californian summer, and Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers' new project Better Oblivion Community Center's "Dylan Thomas," which transports the viewer to headquarters of a mysterious, quasi-religious cult.

Jay Som - The Bus Song [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO] (Amazon Original) www.youtube.com

Better Oblivion Community Center - Dylan Thomas www.youtube.com

She's also directed most of the visual counterparts to her own songs. " Boyish," from her excellent 2018 LP Soft Sounds from Another Planet, is a dismally gorgeous interpretation of a high school prom. Zauner dons a suit, slips into her characteristic bath of ethereal pink and purple lights, and soundtracks one girl's shift from pining over a boy to taking the stage and shredding on her guitar.

Japanese Breakfast - Boyish (Official Video) www.youtube.com

It's a similar narrative to the story told by Mitski's Your Best American Girl video, in which the protagonist exchanges her unrequited desire for an archetypical, all-American guy for a much more satisfying love affair with her bass. Japanese Breakfast joined Mitski and Jay Som on tour in 2016, a lineup of all Asian American women that—although musically very different—were unified by a sense of creative ambition, talent, and a knack for crafting lyrics that cut through all bullshit.

Mitski - Your Best American Girl (Official Video) www.youtube.com

Zauner is also signed to Mitski's label, Dead Oceans. The label's interest and that subsequent 2016 tour with Mitski was a marked surprise for her, for earlier that year she had been working at a "soul-leeching" ad job while quietly dealing with her mother's death by writing what would become Psychopomp, an album that explores many dimensions of grief through waves of reverb-heavy electric guitar and lyrics, sung in her distinctive wail.

A psychopomp, in Greek mythology, is a nonjudgmental tour guide who carries the soul from life to death; and the eponymous album's composition served this purpose for Zauner, providing catharsis in the midst of a storm.

Image via Rolling Stone

Since then, she hasn't stopped creating. Her first published essay won Glamour's nonfiction contest, and she hopes to turn a lauded essay about Korean food and grief published in the New Yorker into a full-length food memoir about her childhood growing up Jewish-Korean in a predominantly white town.

In the midst of it all, she's found time to turn her knowledge of heist movies and crime dramas into Charly Bliss's newest visual. Judging by the quality and the sheer breadth of the output she's been gifting the world with over the past few years, "a lot of heist movies" probably means endless numbers of films watched at all hours of the night. Zauner seems like the kind of person who's constantly uncovering new conspiracy theories, always knee-deep in a rabbit hole of pop science and personal reflection.

Via emmiemusic.com

Certainly her own music videos belie a huge variety of filmic and cultural influences. 2016's " Jane Cum" is hypnotic and haunting, following Zauner on a journey through misty woods to a fiery ritual. Directed with Kolodny and House of Nod Productions, the video borrows from vintage movies, mostly riffing on the 90's horror flick The Craft. 2018's "Road Head" continues this tradition of using occult themes to express the complexities of human feelings.

Japanese Breakfast - Jane Cum (Official Video) www.youtube.com

Japanese Breakfast - Road Head (Official Video) www.youtube.com

"Machinist," also from Soft Sounds, is a nod to sci-fi, inspired by Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey, and takes inspiration from the Mars Project, an initiative meant to eventually make Mars habitable. It's a trip through a subterranean laboratory that finds Zauner writing love letters and dancing beneath glowing wires and flashing TV screens, using a vocoder and autotune to tell a cyborgian love story; throughout, she almost seems to be laughing at the surreality of our modern technology-saturated world while relishing in its aesthetic beauty.

Japanese Breakfast - Machinist (Official Video) www.youtube.com

"The Body is a Blade," of the same album, is also a tribute to 80s nostalgia, as well as to her mother's memory. It shuffles grainy, faded shots of summertime fields and beaches with family photos as Zauner sings about the body's persistent will to live in spite of all odds. It's classic Zauner: aesthetically beautiful and effortlessly dreamy, a tradition that Capacity dutifully follows, its lurid celebration perfectly framing the song's sonic buoyancy and moody lyrics. Maybe soon enough we'll be getting our own full-length feature film from her, but until then, it seems a safe bet that there are more cyborgs and redemptive senior proms to come.

Japanese Breakfast - The Body Is A Blade (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @edenarielmusic.


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