Angel Olsen: All Mirrors (Jagjaguwar) - Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, December 16th, 2019  

Angel Olsen

All Mirrors

Jagjaguwar

Oct 02, 2019 Issue #66 - My Favorite Album - Angel Olsen and Sleater-Kinney Bookmark and Share


How many versions of you are there? Would you even recognize them all as you? What if in the uniting act of consciousness, you truly do only see yourself—redoubled, duplicated, and dispersed-through others' bodies echoing to infinity? "I just want to know that what I'm seeing is what I'm seeing and not what I'm looking for," Angel Olsen wrote on Twitter in July. On Olsen's rapturous fourth album, All Mirrors, this cleansed vision is precisely what she gifts us.

What you see is what you get. Angel Olsen, the singer/songwriter most known for cathartic folk-rock, twining hard truths round a spool of mysticism, and an almost confrontational directness, here presents us with a work that eschews rock instrumentation for electronic soundscapes, and casts the voice as ghostly remnant of studio manipulation with layers of reverb and softly phased effects. Now, while it does not sound like any previous Angel Olsen record, because I don't think I recall a gated-reverb snare on any of her previous work, an album has never sounded more "Angel Olsen" than this one. How can that be? The devil is in the details. She exploits the tensions that define her oeuvre most explicitly in this work. The contrast between the symphonic and the electronic, the opposition of understanding and uncertainty, and the juxtaposition of control and surrender are all foregrounded in mesmerizing colors. It is as if the Angel Olsen you had known from previous records is here recast as a theme, the only one who could do so of course being Angel Olsen herself, and in that very move of the "Angel Olsen" we are familiar with from subject to object we are peeking in ever closer to the Angel Olsen that silently dictates her vision to herself. It's about using indirection to provide the listener with their own discovery which makes the resulting understanding powerfully more direct.

The album's songs progress with clear, linear movement even as the songs fill in the peripheries with ornate swells and accidentals that enrich the motion. On "New Love Cassette" the bass descends languorously, with the warmly plodding drive of someone descending a staircase to get water after having been woken. The hook on "Too Easy" could be from an of Montreal track, and on "Tonight," Olsen sounds as if she has been cast as a cabaret performer in a new David Lynch movie. The album is an extended meditation on the vagaries of fortune through regeneration, but for the listener, the experience is pure bliss. (www.angelolsen.com

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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