Angel Olsen - 'All Mirrors' Album Review
Churning out her fourth album since 2012, Angel Olsen has never been one to sticking with convention. Having already peeled away from folk and diving into the indie rock aesthetic with 2016’s My Woman, followed by the soft, stripped back Phases (2017), All Mirrors is a stunning melancholy, reflective piece that mesmerises you into wilful submission to listen to her every word.
This time, the American singer-songwriter complements her soaring vocals with a 12 string orchestra. The first track ,'Lark', welcomes you with breathtaking, cinematic vigour that bares comparison to Florence and the Machine flare yet still retaining the tantalising closeness that has become synonymous with Olsen’s sound. Yet earlier influences from her career still seep through; such as the magnetic synth-pop sound of 'All Mirrors' and 'Too Easy', the steady reassuring bass of 'New Love Cassette', and 'Tonight' having the slow build that is reminiscent of her 2017 album.
Olsen’s ability to tailor the string section to her desire flourishes in the lamenting melody of 'Spring'; with notes reminiscent of a broken jewellery box alongside her lyricism, you can’t help but feel saddled with the same guilt of wishing "it were true love". 'Impasse' further builds on Olsen’s ingenious use of the dramatic nature of the orchestra. A song that tells of anger and scorn, the enduring feeling of such emotions perfectly contrasts the building progression of the strings. However, constructing her refreshed style around her feverish story-telling is honed in 'Endgame'. Singing "I needed more" paired with a drooping orchestral ballad could leave you feeling as hollow as Olsen’s crooning vocals sound.
Despite the tornado winds of the previously mentioned tracks, 'Summer' has undeniable potential to be a favourite with fans old and new. With an upbeat guitar riff, this track is an appreciated interval from the preceding heavy-hearted numbers. However, Olsen completes All Mirrors with the bitter sweet track 'Chance', with her spelling out the disparity between reality and the hopes of what it would be, neatly paraphrasing the slinking exploration of selfhood - the underlying theme of the album.
All Mirrors is beautifully composed to give merit to the raw, reflective emotions that everyone can feel from time to time. The comparison between the sublime instrumentation and her earthy, unpolished vocals feels as if this is Olsen’s way of owning up to the emotions that may be ugly or unpalatable and making it art. Despite the adoration I hold for this album, I am intrigued for the stripped-down demo version which awaits release. But for now, witnessing her sound mature with empathy to her tender, sorrowful melodic origins makes for a gracious piece and compelling listen.
Check out All Mirrors in full: