Album Reviews

Album Review: Angel Olsen – All Mirrors (Jagjaguwar)

Sam Smith
Angel Olsen - Lark

Female artists have dominated in 2019 with excellent projects from the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Rapsody and Little Simz. Well, now, you can add Angel Olsen to this list after she came through brilliantly on her new release All Mirrors.

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This is Olsen’s fourth studio album and sees her move away from the up-tempo rock style of 2016’s My Woman towards a more crafted baroque pop style full of emotion, drama, and featuring a powerful vocal performance.

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Gone is the guitar and in its place comes layers of dreamy synths and searing orchestration which continues a trend in female alternative pop circles which has seen great records in 2019 by the likes of Weyes Blood and Lana Del Rey. In many ways, this is a continuation of the theatrical pop that the likes of Laura Nyro released in the 1960s and Kate Bush produced in the 1980s.

Opening with the anthemic and at times dramatic singles Lark and title-track All Mirrors, the album goes from strength to strength as it moves along, at times leaving one breathless. This is pop music that gets in your feels at a deeper emotional level than most pop, leaving you gasping, even salivating at its beauty.

Tracks like Spring, What It Is, Impasse, and the truly magnificent album-closer Chance, which in itself, is a candidate for the best song Olsen has written, prove the singles were no fluke and anchor what is a near-perfect album throughout the eleven tracks. You keep waiting for a bump in the road or some filler, but it hardly comes and it eventually gets to the point you don’t want the record to end.

I have often felt Angel Olsen has been stuck in second gear throughout her career. No doubt she is talented and has the songwriting chops, but at times I feel like we have only seen glimpses of this on her records.

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Thankfully, though, with All Mirrors, Olsen has produced a bold and quite beautiful album that well and truly fulfils the potential she has shown in the past. This is no doubt her best album and for mine is right up there as one of the best alt-pop albums of the year.

Click here to stream or buy
Released: 04 Oct 2019

Written By: Sam Smith When he is not writing for Radio 13 Sam works in media and journalism at 95bFM radio and the University of Auckland. He also has is own personal music blog Nowhere Bros.