Angel Olsen
Big Time


3.7
great

Review

by Sunnyvale STAFF
June 9th, 2022 | 31 replies


Release Date: 06/03/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Peaks and valleys

Angel Olsen’s previous album, 2019’s All Mirrors, sounds like a million bucks, as the expression goes. A glistening slab of art pop, it shimmers and glows brightly in a wonderful array of gorgeous hues. But, and this is a vitally important “but”, it never quite connected with me. The songs might be individually stunning, but they never managed to resonate on a personal level. Perhaps this was part of the design, given the stately grandiosity the music seems to aspire to, but the end result was my feeling that the album might as well have been crafted by a robot (although admittedly one with some undeniable golden pipes). With that in mind, I was quite curious what direction Olsen would go in next and whether future output would hit me in the heart and soul in the way that All Mirrors did not. It turns out new album Big Time is in some respects a sibling to its predecessor, but certainly also possesses a number of alluring moments which suggest a very different result.

These start early with opener “All The Good Times”, a tune you could write a dissertation about. For one thing, it sounds absolutely pristine, a continuation of the previous album’s impeccably huge sonic landscape. It’s the type of song which a listener could attempt to pigeonhole into about five different genre traditions, but its heart feels closest to a melancholy, slow-burning classic country tune (think Emmylou Harris). The track then builds to a fantastic climax, drenched in well-executed melodrama.

The title track comes next. While it’s probably likely to receive fewer over-the-top accolades than “All The Good Times”, it’s an excellent and virtually irresistible song (again country-tinged) which leaves the listener with the overriding impression that Angel Olsen has created a monument of an album here. Sadly, though, things don’t really hold up from here.

Third song “Dream Thing” is a notable step down from the first two tracks, and unfortunately leans closer to the quality level of the rest of the tracklist. It’s a slowed-down, reflective piece and has solid emotional appeal, but it’s also a bit sleepy and repetitive. The vulnerable “Ghost On”, with a particularly incredible vocal performance, and “This Is How It Works”, with its weepy country guitars, are both remarkable songs, but much of the rest of the tracklist struggles to justify its length (even if the album as a whole isn’t particularly sprawling), and the closing duet of tunes are both quiet and downbeat, a bit of a disappointment after some of the album’s astounding high points.

All told, Big Time is an album about which it’s hard to satisfactorily summarize my thoughts (admittedly, a bad place for a reviewer to be). The short conclusion would be that this is a significantly more rustic album than All Mirrors, with major country and folk influences joining that album’s lush art pop sound. Even the songs which lean towards the latter style are often gentle and delicate. It’s also a record which feels infinitely more personal, perhaps not surprising given all the changes which the singer-songwriter has experienced in the intervening three years: not only all the dramatic world events we’ve all lived through, but also the deaths of both her parents and the milestone of coming out publicly. While all of these factors make this album more appealing, at least from my perspective, there’s also an uncomfortable dichotomy between the more rootsy songs, which are astoundingly impressive, and the more art pop-ish numbers, which are good but rarely live up to the standard which Olsen previously set. Of that second set, even a tune like “Go Home”, with its formidable lyrics, doesn’t blow me away. I suspect that this is ultimately just a matter of personal preference, and plenty of other listeners might conclude the reverse.. All that can be said in the end is that this is a quality album, so give it a spin and let the discussion and debate begin.



Recent reviews by this author
Ofdrykkja After The StormAnna Mieke Theatre
Dream Unending Song of SalvationHaavard Haavard
Phantom Handshakes A Passport To RemainDarkthrone Astral Fortress
user ratings (88)
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2022


4442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Not particularly satisfied with this review, but I found this album extremely difficult to coherently express my feelings about...



At least there's now a place for commentary on this to commence.

InfernalDeity
June 9th 2022


324 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I had a draft for this and I'm glad I left it as a draft. Beautiful write up. She exercises restraint masterfully, but distilling that into a review is so hard to do. Album is brilliant and you did it justice.

Pangea
June 9th 2022


9030 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yay! just had my first listen this morning. very nice album

theBoneyKing
June 9th 2022


23018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was wondering when this would get a review. I'm enjoying it at lot but it does feel like a slight step down from the previous two for me - 3.7 is the correct rating I think. Seems my highlights are pretty similar to yours too.

Odal
June 9th 2022


1342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well written, but I disagree lol



I think it's a slight step down from All Mirrors, which was an album that destroyed you if you "got" it but also was a little opaque to get into, but her songwriting continues to be extremely high. I think the album flows pretty damn well and culminates in an extremely potent one-two punch of Through the Fires and Chasing the Sun. This album is hitting me much more immediately than All Mirrors did so I'm excited to see how my relationship grows with it

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2022


4442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks guys!



@Boney, I think I slightly prefer this one due to it feeling more personal, but it's close.



@Odal, definitely understand this perspective, seems like an album which will come across quite differently to different people.

JeremiahBullfrog
June 9th 2022


1687 Comments


Isn't this a porn star?

Odal
June 9th 2022


1342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Definitely, and I don't envy trying to write a review to try and pin down her music in a reasonable timeframe after release. I've found that her music tends to really evolve with me and reveal more layers, but I could just be stanning lol

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2022


59146 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I really can't stand country/americana

theBoneyKing
June 9th 2022


23018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Weak take

Sowing
Moderator
June 9th 2022


42609 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. I love how this whole thing sounds, I'm just not a big fan of the songs themselves unfortunately. Album is still vibes / 5.

Colton
June 9th 2022


17274 Comments


I listened to like 4 songs on My Woman and didn't like them so I doubt I'll like this

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2022


4442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks Sowing! I sorta agree with that, although there's four songs (mentioned in the review) that I do really feel stand out on their own merits

loveisamixtape
June 10th 2022


11831 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

>not a fan of the songs



>3.5



🤔

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2022


9839 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Cool stuff to listen to at the end of the day.

theBoneyKing
June 10th 2022


23018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Colton, this is very different than My Woman. That said you would probably think this is like the Chloe and the Next 20th Century of Americana or something like that

Colton
June 11th 2022


17274 Comments


that sounds more enjoyable than Chloe and the Next 20th Century

Veldin
June 11th 2022


4863 Comments


Didn’t know she’s from my hometown, so I suppose I’ll give this a shot

theBoneyKing
June 11th 2022


23018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man, “All the Good Times” is so fucking good. The entrance of the horns is such a great moment. Close to bumping this to a 4 actually, almost every song has something I really like.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2022


4442 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

All The Good Times is incredible, yeah. One of those openers which, if the rest of the album kept up the same quality level, it would be the AOTY for sure



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy