BY MISCHA PEARLMAN
Big Deal’s 2011 debut album, Lights Out, was a collection of songs so fragile and delicate that it sounded like they would fall apart were it physically possible to touch them. Trading vocals, heartaches and fading romantic visions of youth with each other, KC Underwood and Alice Costelloe—who’s only now just 19 years of age—created a work of beautiful, tender melancholy.
Musically, these twelve songs have a slightly stronger constitution—especially the fierce feedbacked fuzz that underpins “Teradactol”—but that overwhelming sense of existential loss and wasted youth is as salient as ever. The difference is that here, the pair are more defiant about succumbing to the inevitable. “Don’t wanna fall asleep knowing I never did my best,” they harmonize on opener “Golden Light”, setting the tone of the rest of the album.
Because this is a band who are still lost, who are still looking for the answers to life and who are still working out exactly what love is – and whether the loss that follows it is worthwhile. Unlike before, however, they’ve realized that it’s okay to be lost, and they’ve embraced that confusion. And so, “In Your Car” is a soul-searching road trip that balances an ever-so-slightly-grungey tune with a catchy chorus of upbeat optimism, reveling in the revelation of carpe diem that “I wanna be wherever you are…”.
Similarly, “Swapping Spit” embraces the fact that “We got nowhere else to go” with jangling, driven vitality. Elsewhere, the simple, majestic strumming of “Pristine” is full of unfulfilled longing and desire, while the near six-minutes of “Close Your Eyes” ends the album with a lugubrious lament in which Underwood and Costelloe take turns ruminating on the past to a plaintive guitar before the song bursts in a beautiful wash of melancholy noise. It’s a definitive, apocalyptic ending—“Not everything that lives can grow”, they mourn forlornly—but, despite the finality of whatever has passed passing, it’s also strangely hopeful. Because it’s a reminder that there are people out there constantly trying to find those ineluctable answers, that there are people still trying to make sense of the world and capture the beauty they find within it, however fleeting it may be. This album balances that joy and sadness perfectly and powerfully.
DOWNLOAD: “Close Your Eyes”, “In Your Car”