Big Thief’s latest album, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You from last year, was a stellar body showing just how much they had grown sonically over their last five projects. That album had 20 songs, but the group still has even more new material ready to go.
Stopping by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert last night (February 28), singer Adrianne Lenker, guitarist and vocalist Buck Meek, bassist Max Oleartchik, and drummer James Krivchenia decided to play an unreleased track titled “Vampire Empire” (which they’ve frequently played live over the past few months). This isn’t the first time the group has dropped an unreleased song during a filmed performance (see their 2022 Tiny Desk Concert), but this premiere just feels different.
The song itself is an emo kid’s gloomy musical dream. “Vampire Empire” is slow, dark, and depressive. Lenker, who is considered to be the group’s songwriting architect, pens a tale of longing and repressed intimacy.
Heard in the song’s third verse as Lenker sings, “I see you there rejecting all your earthly power / Protecting and dissecting ’til you’ve emptied every hour / We jumped into the pond and then come under the shower / We lay upon my pillow and you open like a flower / I wanted to see you naked, I wanted to hear you scream / I wanted to kiss your skin and your everything / I wanted to be your woman, I wanted to be your man / I wanted to be the one that you could understand,” love isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Many times, contrary to Disney fairy tales, it is hypothermic.
Watch Big Thief’s full performance of “Vampire Empire” above.