By Kelsey Bolander
Adrianne Lenker calls her newest solo EP an “archive” and a “documentation.” As the lead singer of Big Thief, Lenker follows the credo set by her band on "abysskiss"—equal parts beautiful and devastating. Unlike Big Thief records, the subjects of her songwriting are not concrete, nor should they be. “abysskiss” revels in elusive feelings and the different identities we adopt without reason or purpose. With relatively sparse instrumentation, Lenker’s voice lingers and swells over a flurry of finger-plucking and reverb.
Lenker unveiled the album’s opening track, “terminal paradise,” at the end of Big Thief’s Austin City Limits performance. The stripped back track must have been a sharp turn for an audience primed for forceful guitar riffs and sharp percussion. As the song follows the cycle of birth and death, Lenker’s trembling voice gains and loses strength, eventually crackling down to a weak whisper in the line, “Let me rest, let me go.”
The album’s standout singles, “cradle” and “symbol,” both meditate on the incongruencies of time passing. “cradle” admonishes a loved one for placing their pride over intimacy. “symbol” conversely tries to escape monotony, with a bewitching Lenker chanting drolly, “Fly, make flea, make haste, make waste, eight makes infinity” at the top of the chorus.
Adrianne Lenker tries on many masks, yet makes each one deeply intimate and familiar. “abysskiss” aligns perfectly with the change in season: shedding skin while maintaining a firm sense of self.