with Black Bolt and Dirt Russell
On May 18th, 2018, Brooklyn’s Big Ups return with their third full-length via Exploding in Sound Records. After forming eight years ago, the band comprised of Brendan Finn (drums), Joe Galarraga (vocals), Amar Lal (guitar), and Carlos Salguero Jr. (bass) continue to tackle dualities in the aptly named Two Parts Together. If 2014’s Eighteen Hours of Static was a brash screed about faith versus science, and 2016’s Before A Million Universes an introspective look at the individual against society, then Two Parts Together lies in the liminal, attempting to make sense of unknowable and basking in uncertainty.
The album’s title track finds vocalist Galarraga searching for meaning in ritual through the examples of a wedding and a funeral. “I just wanted to feel/just how it would be,” he states, hoping for some sort of self-discovery through these human institutions. This emotional inquisition is echoed throughout the album, often in opposition to the omnipresent “lake” mentioned in several songs. What rests below its surface, or bubbles up from the bottom? Throughout Two Parts Together, Big Ups wrestles with the power of mystery both tangibly and metaphysically.
And the band does so often through its signature dynamics. Lal’s biting guitar work is bolstered by Finn’s crashing and Salguero’s booming, and together they can tightly settle into a lull. But Big Ups is not simply employing its old tricks; Two Parts Together sees the quartet utilizing the studio more than ever. Their normal sonic palette has been supplemented with additional strings, harmonium, field recordings, piano, and more. The album is paced through thoughtful instrumentals and interludes, as if to offer the listener a breath of fresh air or – perhaps – a walk around the lake.
A loose congolmeration of nerds and jerks playing three to five chords, sometimes successfully.