Upon my first listen, “Simulation Swarm”- simply put- just didn’t do it for me. I found myself disconnected, neutral, and slightly disappointed in Big Thief, one of my all-time favorite bands, and their newest release. As a self-proclaimed musical genius, I assumed my initial reaction to the song was correct. “Simulation Swarm” found itself forgotten after my inaugural dismissal, never to be seen again. This is the last time I trust my pretentious expectations; I was treacherously mistaken.
A December evening in Boston was the second time “Simulation Swarm” found me. Though I choose to believe my rediscovery of the song is a case of fate, or perhaps divine intervention, Spotify autoplay is arguably responsible for my pot-of-gold moment. I drive around my hometown behaving in a particularly melodramatic manner- looking wistfully at stoplights, sighing aggressively, head in hands, etc. Enter “Simulation Swarm”.
The moment transports me to an entirely new headspace. Upon my second listen, the song brings me almost immediately to tears. It wrecks me. A door opens, welcoming feelings I have long repressed, and yet yearn to feel again. There is something distinctly heart-wrenching about Big Thief’s “Simulation Swarm.” A devastating baseline chases me throughout my listen as Lenker constructs her convoluted lyrical image. I have not unveiled the full picture, yet I find myself clinging to certain lines with abnormal intensity. Though, with research, it becomes clear that the song is dedicated to her biological brother, I choose to believe that the cryptic nature of Adrianne Lenker’s lyricism is an allowance for personal interpretation.
I was reborn with my second listen. To me, this song is an attempted escape to a place I am no longer welcome. Its melodies, complemented by soft harmonies and a melancholic tune, create an unmistakable feeling of desperation. I have written and rewritten my feelings about this song, but I truly do not believe its magnificence can be encapsulated by words. In order to feel the weight of Big Thief’s masterpiece, give it a listen. And, if it doesn’t stick the first time, trust me, listen again.