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The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

Staff Profile

LH ALBUM REVIEW: Bright Future

Adrienne Lenker is back with her latest solo release
LH+ALBUM+REVIEW%3A+Bright+Future
Claire Hartwig

Adrianne Lenker, the lead vocalist, guitarist, and main songwriter of Big Thief, is back and better than ever with her newest solo studio album, Bright Future. This is her first solo album since the highly acclaimed Songs was released in 2020, and thus it has garnered heavy anticipation. Despite the pressure to produce another praiseworthy album, Lenker pulled through and exceeded expectations with this nostalgic and hauntingly beautiful record. 

The album opens with the song Real Love. The pensive track seemingly examines Lenker’s childhood. A gentle piano is heard in the background as Lenker recounts childhood memories. She sings, “Mama, what happened? / I never thought we’d go this long / Now, thirty-one and I don’t feel strong / And your love is all I want.” As the memories pile up, it’s clear that Lenker can still feel them as intensely as she could when she was a kid—these feelings haven’t disappeared nor lessened as she’s grown up.

The record continues on with a similar pattern in most of the songs: heavy lyrics masked with light and airy production. Lenker’s vocals are sharp yet alluring and they ultimately fit so well into the songs that it’s hard to imagine anyone else singing them. Aside from Lenker’s vocals, her distinct songwriting shines through on this album as well. In Sadness As a Gift, Lenker reflects on a past relationship, alluding to a point of acceptance in the future with the lyrics, “You could write me someday, and I bet you will / We could see the sadness as a gift and still / The seasons go so fast.” Lenker’s lyrics are always poignant but straight-forward and manage to tackle heartbreak and grief in such nuanced ways, and that’s really highlighted in this song, especially. 

Lenker also included an alternate version of the viral Big Thief track, Vampire Empire, on the album. The song explores the issues with codependency that ultimately end in destructive relationships. This version feels much more static and has less of a melody to it, which is an interesting divergence from the first version, which felt more passionate and animated. This version, despite the differences, feels more fleshed out than the original, however. 

Fool is a big highlight on the album, with the lyrics, “We could be friends / You could love me through and through / If I were him / Would you be my family too?” Perhaps the most promising track on the entire album, however, is Donut Seam. The reflective and simple track explores climate change and the grief that comes with the recognition of the state of our planet. Lenker also reflects on a relationship that is ending in relation to the topic of climate change. As the track progresses, Lenker seems to hold the understanding that everything will pass in time. In an interview with The Cut, Lenker said about the track and climate grief: “It’s important to remember that yes, there is suffering. And who knows, maybe everything could end. But there are still beautiful things happening in nature now.”

This album felt entirely different from one of Big Thief’s and in turn, solidified Lenker as a separate entity outside of the group. The record is raw and heart wrenching from the beginning, but it also has an air of hopefulness that is missing in some other albums of the same category. Lenker tackles familial and romantic relationships so poignantly, yet again making her mark as an incredible songwriter. That coupled with the light production on most tracks meshes together surprisingly well. Through and through, this album is everything that an indie album should be and is absolutely Lenker’s best solo record so far.

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About the Contributors
Sadie Bodzin
Sadie Bodzin, Culture Co-Editor
my friend keeps saying that i copy his posts, i feel bad so go check him out @the._.yomi.Xx (-_-_) 1!1!1!1! o30
Claire Hartwig
Claire Hartwig, News and Culture Co-Editor
Counting down the days til J-Hope returns from the military <3
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