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May 2019
Review

Big Ups - Two Parts Together

An appropriate soundtrack for the fractured world we find ourselves in.
Big Ups - Two Parts Together
Published: 8:32 pm, May 16, 2018
An appropriate soundtrack for the fractured world we find ourselves in.

Label: Exploding In Sound
Released: 18th May 2018
Rating: ★★★★

There are some weighty themes lurking behind Big Ups’ dextrous sound, and you’ll be hard-pressed to wrestle much comfort from ‘Two Parts Together’. Instead, it’s a brooding masterpiece, rife with dark crevices and jutting ravines that offers little relief in these trying times.

It’s a monumental step up for the lauded Brooklyn quartet, placing them alongside art-rock pioneers Sonic Youth and fellow New York outliers Les Savy Fav as brave, genre-bending innovators. ‘Two Parts Together’ consequently feels like the culmination of ideas tested on previous efforts ‘Eighteen Hours of Static’ and ‘Before A Million Universes’, marrying idiosyncratic style with a grand vision and overarching frame.

It’s not afraid to challenge either, especially lyrically. ‘Fear’ opens with vocalist Joe Galarraga’s fatalistic monologue on identity and the world at large; “Will I be the same person when I wake up in the morning?" he asks; “Which version of the world is the one that’s worth believing?” he later muses. It sounds like an especially futile and nihilistic episode of Rick and Morty, but it also shows Big Ups fearlessness in asking big, open-ended questions.

Musically, ‘Two Parts Together’ is just as willful, working as a conduit to channel Galarraga’s emotions. Occasionally it fires – ‘Trying To Love’, and ‘PPP’ are explosions of noise and tension – but elsewhere it feels like a vertigo-induced sway; giddy and exciting but perilous all the same. When Galarraga finds himself on the precipice, it feels like Big Ups well-crafted soundscapes could topple – and certainly ‘In The Shade’ and ‘Tell Them’ teeter tantalisingly – yet the group never loses full control.

Big Ups are never going to be a band that is taken to heart by the commercial masses, yet ‘Two Parts Together’ is an album that deserves a wide audience. For many, its unyielding bleakness will be too much. For others, it will be the appropriate soundtrack for the fractured world we find ourselves in. Rob Mair

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