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.