Every now and then, you’ll hear a song that feels like it’s been composed especially for you—its rhythm calibrated to your pulse, lyrics drawn from the marrow of your memory. A few months ago, I came across such a song. Big Thief’s recent single, “Little Things,” a twangy, sun-drunk ode to infatuation, has been a kind of companion to me as I enter my last semester here at Bowdoin.
Big Thief, the Brooklyn-born indie rock quartet helmed by vocalist Adrianne Lenker, has scored the soundtrack to most of my Bowdoin career—the otherworldly acoustics in “UFOF” my freshman spring, the rough-hewn ballads in “Two Hands” my sophomore fall, Lenker’s gorgeous offerings in “songs” my junior year winter. To cap it off, the band is gearing up for yet another release on February 11, and judging from the singles they’ve released so far, it’s shaping up to be a promising album.
“Little Things,” though, is a departure from their usual style. In terms of lyrics, Lenker forgoes the poetic density of “UFOF” and “Two Hands” in favor of something lighter, more conversational. The words meander about, but they feel sincere, like a tipsy profession of a crush:
The little things I like about you
How you say, when you say, what you do
When your feeling is a little gold and blue
When your feeling is a little strung out
Everything we talk about …
As the song progresses, Lenker’s vocals wander through the bright ruckus of guitars and snare drums, her path strewn with echoes, handclaps, ragged breaths, yips and hollers. It’s a song of release. A raucous paean. A messy proclamation.
When I listen to this song, I can’t help but think of the four-year love affair I’ve had with Bowdoin itself. To be sure, there have been difficult times. Given the tumultuous past two years, it’s only natural to feel distraught, even jaded. But this song suggests another possibility, a sort of turbulent joy. We go on, stumbling through the wreckage, collecting little shards of happiness where we can. Even with the countless reasons to be distressed, I’ve felt oddly sentimental these past few months at Bowdoin. It’s been the familiar chime of the chapel bells. It’s been the morning line for coffee at the Smith Union Café. It’s been the archipelago of picnics on the Museum steps.
It’s been the little things.