Adrianne Lenker: Bright Future (4AD) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, May 17th, 2024  

Adrianne Lenker

Bright Future

4AD

Mar 22, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Similar to Emily Sprague’s self-titled Florist album of a few years back, Adrianne Lenker’s woodshed approach on Bright Future brings warm and wonderful results. Surrounded by friends Nick Hakim (piano), Josefin Runsteen (violin), Mat Davidson (guitar), as well as the ambient sounds of the studio itself, the album glows steadiest when all of the musicians’ talents are brought to bear. Lenker’s sing-song cadence gets things going on the reflective opener, “Real House.” “Do you remember running?” Lenker asks before recounting childhood memories and ultimately juxtaposing the life giving and life taking properties of a hypodermic needle. A spare and serious beginning to be sure.

But Bright Future begins to blossom on the following “Sadness as a Gift,” where a wavery guitar strum is met with a gorgeous fiddle run and Hakim’s intermittent piano notes. Lenker has long since proven her ability to lay bare with a simple couplet, and here she pins the heart of the song with the devastating “Snow falling, I try to keep from calling.” The liveliest song on the album, the reworked Big Thief single “Vampire Empire,” is given an energetic acoustic treatment not unlike Bob Dylan’s early approach. While the later “Already Lost” benefits from producer Phillip Weinrobe’s banjo accompaniment, which mirrors the ancient Appalachian underpinnings of the song.

The sparer arrangements here prove a more challenging batch. Appearing at the center of the album, “Evol,” with its pondering on a series of backwards spelled words, feels the result of a songwriting exercise taken too far. The massed vocals of “Donut Seam,” the title of which riffs on the phrase “don’t it seem,” makes better use of its literary playfulness. And the closing, phase-shifted echo of “Ruined” is the best of the unaccompanied tracks here.

Lenker has long since proven herself one of the best and most prolific songwriters of the day. Her solo albums are easily on par with her work with Big Thief, while also providing an opportunity to explore darker themes that are more readily apparent to the listener. It’s hard to rank work this personal alongside Lenker’s other releases, but suffice it to say that Bright Future slots in comfortably with everything she has done to date and brings a greater sense of being of a moment in time. (www.adriannelenker.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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