Angel Olsen
All Mirrors


4.6
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
October 15th, 2019 | 29 replies


Release Date: 10/04/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An undeniable stunner that should go down as one of the strongest art-pop albums of the year.

All Mirrors is the kind of album that only certain artists have the talent to pull off. It’s sweepingly orchestral; strings flourish in the background – often haphazardly swelling to the forefront – with an inebriated kind of delight that might sound foolish in lesser hands. Pianos dance with a crystalline elegance that shouldn’t mesh so well with their surroundings, yet they do anyway. Olsen’s voice alternates between sweet, soft-spoken verses and bold awakenings that command control of the room. It’s this delectable balance between meek rock and lustrous, agile pop that not only serves as a series of emotional vignettes, but also as ear candy. Here, Olsen has created an undeniable stunner that should go down as one of the strongest art-pop albums of the year.

The overarching progression of All Mirrors is palpably tense, seemingly always on the verge of erupting. We witness this early via the opener ‘Lark’, where Olsen’s hushed verses give way to crashing drums and vocal fanfare, a "big bang" whose ripple effect can still be felt deep into the record's run time. All Mirrors is brimming with these kinds of moments - these miniature explosions - although Angel’s voice doesn’t always provide the impetus. On ‘What It Is’, for instance, a sprightly pop beat suddenly transforms into a symphonic whirlwind, replete with experimentally-charged strings that act as an eccentric – but very entertaining – focal point. On ‘New Love Cassette’, it’s when the orchestration bubbles into a frenzy during the final minute before ultimately fizzling out into silence. The common denominator across this experience is Olsen’s keen ear for suspense – how to build it, and how to capitalize upon it.

She arguably does just as superb of a job on the former task, as evidenced by ‘Impasse’ – which possesses a cinematic score-like progression where the strings sound taut and distressed, and are only occasionally relieved by Olsen’s cynical refrain of “you know best, don't you now.” The album even ends with suspense – not resolution, as ‘Chance’ lulls us into oblivion with a beautifully lush to-and-fro piano line. The entrancing curtain-call leaves us hanging in the balance, and waiting for answers: “Forever's just so far / Why don't you say you're with me now, with all of your heart?” That final stanza alone feels indicative of All Mirrors – a very intense in the moment record that throws everything it has at us sonically. It invites us to join in on the warmth of this string-laden, emotionally poignant outburst. In the broader context of her discography it may only be a fling – but it burns fervently and ever bright.




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user ratings (121)
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
October 15th 2019


32423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

Just a mini-review from someone who doesn't have the most experience with Olsen (okay, fine, none), but found this to be absolutely breathtaking.

Digging: Jimmy Eat World - Surviving

budgie
October 15th 2019


13836 Comments


first

Digging: Stop Suffering - Win

Gyromania
October 15th 2019


28598 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I thought you 5d this?



Good review, I loved her last album but find this to be pretty boring after 1 spin. Maybe it'll grow on me

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 15th 2019


32423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

The 5 was a tad overzealous

But not by much

butt.
October 15th 2019


5157 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

aside from the extensive use of strings, a lot of this felt kinda average. but that last song....god damn that was a good closer.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2019


19068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

many thx sowing

Digging: Lightning Bolt - Sonic Citadel

dmathias52
October 15th 2019


948 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty much exactly what @butt said. This lives a great first impression, but I’m kind of finding there isn’t as much depth as I thought on repeated listens

Digging: Bayside - Interrobang

luci
October 15th 2019


11864 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

folk? where?

nice concluding para

theBoneyKing
October 15th 2019


17408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this ain’t folk

Was first impressed with this, then underwhelmed, and now I’m impressed again. A similar arc as I had with My Woman - confirms Olsen albums are proper growers.

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 16th 2019


32423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

I hear folk singer-songwriter influences throughout. Some folk rock as well. This isn't purebred pop so if I'm misidentifying other factors then please let me know.

RhaegarHarp
October 16th 2019


6 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

There are so many words you could pick about this beautiful shapeshifter and you went with "folk" smh



If we're really going by the banality of genre-labelling, I'd pick art pop. Folk elemnts aren't at the center this time around.



Atari
Staff Reviewer
October 16th 2019


25000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

There’s some folk influence, even if it’s not as apparent as her previous albums



Nice review ofc, Sowing. Sadly can’t seem to get into this one but hopefully it will grow over time

Cormano
October 16th 2019


1652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

love the opening tracks and Chance is one hell of a closer

great review

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 16th 2019


16800 Comments


Said it before and I'll say it again: t/t is the absolute bomb.

I've only heard the full album a couple of times but I think, as a whole, it's not her best.

Digging: Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 16th 2019


32423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

"There are so many words you could pick about this beautiful shapeshifter and you went with "folk" smh

If we're really going by the banality of genre-labelling, I'd pick art pop. Folk elemnts aren't at the center this time around."

Well to be fair I did say it's a blend of art-pop and folk in my actual review, but okay.



robin
Emeritus
October 16th 2019


4587 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

lol

alamo
October 16th 2019


1848 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

a lot of "orchestral" genres like tropicalia or chamber music are labeled as folk on this site which might be a little confusing? i'd say art pop and chamber pop are appropriate tags



great writing, last paragraph is really on point. does justice to an album with such a strong closer, probably my favorite song of the year

Digging: O Terno -

Ambrosian
October 16th 2019


148 Comments


Found My Woman painfully average, wonder if this will be any different...

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 16th 2019


32423 Comments

Album Rating: 4.6 | Sound Off

It’s this delectable balance between meek folk and lustrous, agile art-pop that not only serves as a series of emotional vignettes, but also as ear candy.

Just leaving this passage here, because I'm not sure what's stirring the most controversy - that I implied there is folk embedded in the art-pop, or merely that I used the word folk in my review summary.

Either way, appreciate the feedback and compliments! This was a brief write-up for an artist I'm only just now discovering.

el_newg
October 16th 2019


78 Comments


huge props to John Congleton for producing another fantastic album. that guy has a great ear that I am finding myself connected to more and more.



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