I hate to admit it, but I didn’t give Big Thief its due credit until right around moving to TX in early March of 2020. Within a few months I had picked up all of the band’s albums. They have been a top 3 artist on my top Spotify Artists list ever since, and a few of their albums are now in my top 10 records played in my collection of all time. (I starting to track those numbers in 2020.) Today, I’m going to look at their 2022 LP Dragon New Warm Mountain, I Believe In You and share some of the reasons I dubbed it my #1 album of last year.
So upon the announcement in mid to late 2021 of a new double LP to be released in early 2022, I was pretty damn excited. Not just that, it would be a double album containing no fewer than 20 songs! In that sense, it’s kind of like what they gave us in 2019 — two LPs — but merged into a single release.
Unboxing the Emo-Mix Recycled Vinyl Variant
I unbox my copy, which is the randomly colored eco-mix recycled vinyl version on 4AD, in my video review below:
Now, I’m not entirely sure how many were pressed, but my best guess is that it was an issue of around 5,000.
I have seen mixed reviews of Eco-Mix Recycled quality, and that can be a concern. One called it “squishy” and noted it worked with the material. Another mentioned it had a small piece of paper embedded in the wax which causes a small pop but plays through fine.
A few mentioned warping, but that’s a QA thing I’ve noticed with a lot of releases these day, not something isolated to Eco-Mix Recycled pressings.
Others have had no issues whatsoever.
Thankfully, I’m with the no issues camp. Mine is cool, comes on colors that reflect the album. The packaging fits the release, it has a folky feel to it. The only way they could make it more so would be DIY.
But what of the music itself?
Dragon New Warm Mountain Album Review
In my Best of 2022 countdown, I highlighted how diverse and the album was. Looking back throughout history, some of the best double albums are the ones were the artist leaned into the freedom of not having the constraints that 45 minutes puts on them. Albums like The White Album by The Beatles or Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins.
They use the double album as a way to explore new territories, ones truly uncharted for the band. It can lead to transformation — we saw this with The Beatles.
If their 2023 live performance in Dallas is any clue for what we can expect from Big Thief, they’ll continue to thrive creatively as well. How do I know? They played a few new songs, and they were fucking phenomenal!
Dragon New Warm Mountain, I Believe in You blends a variety of sounds and styles, but the ever-present one is indie folk. From there, Big Thief injects country, dream pop, and more.
You have tracks with mellow folk-pop swaggers, like “Change” and “Certainty.” These were two early favorites, and the latter finds the band harmonizing with Adrienne Lenker through much of the song. Take a listen:
Then you have country folks. Songs like “Spud Infinity” and “Red Moon” at first seem a bit strange coming from Big Thief, but in time they become as infectious as anything else they create.
Finally, they’ve carved out a dream-pop-meets-folk sound in tracks like “Heavy Bend” and “Blurred View.” The latter was among my most played tracks of 2022.
The #1 Album of 2022
Dragon New Warm Mountain is enchanting. It’s a masterpiece that transcends the loose boundaries of indie folk. Big Thief has created a truly unique journey that tracks the band’s continued artistic growth and emotional depth, drawing listeners into their often quirky yet endearing world authenticly and vulnerably.
It is an invitation to dive into the rich tapestry of life, and a reminder that music has the power to heal, inspire, and connect us all. There’s good reason this album topped my Best of 2023 list, and why Big Thief continues to dominate my record player and my AirPods. It is really, truly that fucking good!