Sharon Van Etten
We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong


4.1
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
May 9th, 2022 | 89 replies


Release Date: 05/06/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I wanna be myself

The word catharsis is transformed - no, given entirely new meaning, redefined - in the work of Sharon Van Etten. Her intuitive understanding of emotional and sonic dynamics, whether it's a produced pop song or a stark acoustic ballad, is matched only by her towering cathedral of a voice and knack for curating and sequencing capital-a Albums. One of the most consistent yet surprising artists of her generation, Van Etten's music is packaged with a unique feeling of wanderlust which ensures she never makes the same album twice. We've Been Going About This All Wrong bears many hallmarks of Van Etten's previous work, in particular her masterpieces Are We There and epic, but is entirely its own album through and through. It's another reflection in the endless hall of mirrors I call her discography, fascinatingly warped and distorted in a way distinct from all the previous, but just as brilliant, intense and lovely as the rest.

We've Been Going About This All Wrong distinguishes itself as a statement record before the music has even started playing. The rollout saw Van Etten drop two singles – the propulsive 80s throwback "Porta" and the lowkey "Used to It" - only to announce that neither would be featured on the album, a ten-track song cycle from which no songs were previewed prior to release. This choice and the more reserved sound of ...All Wrong are the markers which call back to the more baroque and thoughtful Are We There, instead of the bolder and more scattershot Remind Me Tomorrow, though that album's alt-pop affluence is still felt in the out-and-out banger "Mistakes". The tempered slowburns of "Born" and "Come Back" erupt into climaxes as powerful as anything from the progressive-leaning epic, while the duo of "Darkness Fades" and "Darkish" harken back to her earliest sound as a lone voice over acoustic guitar.

In essence, it plays as a retrospective look back at Van Etten's journey through the musical landscape and the emotional arc which accompanied it, without ever feeling like a self-congratulatory greatest hits exercise. We've Been Going About This All Wrong reflects on the darkest moments of her earliest work with a newfound sense of confidence and control fully discovered in the Remind Me Tomorrow era. The spectre of an abusive relationship hangs over much of Van Etten's work up to Are We There, tempering even that album's loveliest pop moments - "Our Love", "Taking Chances" - with a very real and uncomfortable darkness. It may be an overstatement to say that ...All Wrong is a complete therapeutic exercise, but it certainly examines some of that trauma from the eyes of adulthood. As "Born" builds up to an exorcism of emotion with some of the most powerful vocals the artist has put to tape, she sings "one night, I walked into a situation that I could have avoided / but it turned into something my babe noticed ain't right". The meditative album closer "Far Away" seems to stumble upon some kind of acceptance, acting as a tranquil sequel to the vitriolic "Every Time the Sun Comes Up" nearly a decade on. Van Etten may be singing to many people about many things as she repeats "long gone, I'll see you far away", but the sense of peace the melody radiates speaks for itself. Perhaps we're the ones who've been going about this all wrong, defining the artist by her darkest moments, but Sharon Van Etten is ready to step into the light.



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user ratings (59)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2022


46378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

https://sharonvanetten.bandcamp.com/album/weve-been-going-about-this-all-wrong



album good etc

brainmelter
May 9th 2022


7847 Comments


oh nice excited to jam

Digging: Dave Bixby - Ode To Quetzalcoatl

brainmelter
May 9th 2022


7847 Comments


hopefully it’s better than last one

Gyromania
May 9th 2022


34461 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Her last album was great

brainmelter
May 9th 2022


7847 Comments


it wasn’t bad per se but it definitely didn’t hit like Are We There did for me

Cormano
May 9th 2022


3392 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol I was hoping you'd drop this one soon Row. nice nice nice



album is fantastic can't even decide on what the best tracks are just yet but Come Back and I'll Try would def make that cut

fogza
Contributing Reviewer
May 9th 2022


5531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Her last album was great"



[2]

Digging: Warpaint - Radiate Like This

Gyromania
May 9th 2022


34461 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

first listen is real good so far. favourites anyone?

Pangea
May 9th 2022


8382 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

her last album was great [3]



this is kind of a slog though ngl. hopefully it can grow on me though

Digging: Gospel - The Loser

CottonSalad
May 9th 2022


2450 Comments


so many birbs

Digging: Pascal Battus, Anne F Jacques, Tim Olive - Trois Conseillers

HelloJoe
May 9th 2022


566 Comments


I didn't really like her last album. I gave the new one a cursory listen but I liked what I heard.

anat
Contributing Reviewer
May 9th 2022


4757 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

wasn’t keen first go around, the large bigness of it just doesn’t really suit her and detracts from her lovely voice

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2022


47469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

not sure what to rate this yet. some good songs here, a lot of bizarre case of boring or half-baked songwriting that I didn't see coming from her, and a big glossy indiesynth silver screen palette that doesn't pair well with her vox at all.



not a bad record, but not really a good one either

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You

Pheromone
Contributing Reviewer
May 9th 2022


17568 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

album is a bit of a slog

Digging: The Wrens - Overnight Success

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 9th 2022


23128 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is fucking brilliant

Idt my 5 will hold bc it falls off a bit in the last act (barring the closer ofc) but this is a really special album

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2022


47469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

inaccurate. Mistakes, while not a full highlight, is at least the most fun song here bc it's the only one to completely run away with the premise of being nostalgia-baiting overproduced synth indie. full points for commitment, defs not a falloff

Sowing
Moderator
May 9th 2022


40956 Comments


I loved Tramp and Are We There, but the last effort didn't do anything for me and while this one is an improvement, it's still slow to capture my interest (not a comment on its quality, just saying it wasn't immediately compelling to me). Come Back is my early favorite.

Digging: Zach Bryan - American Heartbreak

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 9th 2022


23128 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah I guess my only problems are with Come Back/Darkness. Everything else I’m all for (esp the opener, Born, and Headspace)



Both times ive heard this in full I was moderately high so my thoughts are jumbled



JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2022


47469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Can settle on Come Back being the best here tbh, really songwriting that rests a lot of weight on the title lyric without wearing it thin (as earlier tracks, esp Headspace absolutely do), glorious vocal performance, unobtrusive palette. One of the few here that could have been an Are We There track in either style or quality

fogza
Contributing Reviewer
May 9th 2022


5531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This record is quite exhausting to listen to but I do think it's a quality release. I'm probably in the minority here in that I thought her last record was her best one.



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