by Scott Hartge
In a sense, Big Ups fans may know what to expect with Two Parts Together. This is entirely a positive thing, however. After their head-crushing sophomore release Before A Million Universes, the Brooklyn band established themselves as one of post-hardcore’s most promising acts. Two Parts Together, while very much a Big Ups record, sees the band exploring exciting new territories forcing listeners to keep their expectations in check.
The self-titled opener, in an almost self-referential manner, begins with an onslaught of chaotic guitar noise that abruptly cuts into the song’s hypnotic first verse. This opening sequence acts as a sufficient prelude to the album. Two Parts Together often patiently builds tension or crescendos with pummeling force only to incorporate a whiplashing change, slamming the breaks on the cascading forward momentum. Take album highlight “Trying to Love” for instance, Big Ups jolt listeners into the pre-chorus with a bombastic, jarring drum fill after reeling them in with a swelling of glistening guitar feedback. Big Ups also use this direction on the flow of the album, making transitions between songs just as jagged as the songs themselves.
Lyrically, the album often finds itself pushing and pulling between certainty and claiming one’s vision against the uncertainty of one’s identity. In the lead single “PPP” Joe Galarraga exclaims for people to “Look into the crystal, and see what you wanna see.” Merely two songs later on “Fear”, the world’s unknowingness cracks Galarraga’s own declarations in “PPP.” He sings, “I don’t wanna recall, the moments after waking, am I the same person, I was when I was dreaming, which version of the world is the one that’s worth believing?” It’s this tension, lyrically and musically, that makes Two Parts Together such a rewarding listen. Through dismantling any assumptions listeners might have, they don’t offer a chance for them to get comfortable.
In just over thirty minutes Big Ups create an expansive, attention-grabbing listen in Two Parts Together. Their music still sounds just as claustrophobic and menacing as ever but leaves just enough space in the cracks to calm listeners before the inevitable cacophony to come. In other words, it’s another spectacular record by Big Ups.