2019 – Art Pop, Chamber Pop
All Mirrors is the best combination of sadness and intensity, resulting in an amazing set of songs.
Angel Olsen, with sure, is an atmosphere expert. Since her first studio album Half Way Home (2012), in which she worked with the mix of folk instruments and tearful voices, My Woman (2016), where Olsen designed for something darker, well-crafted and complex than his previous ones. Now, in 2019 with All Mirrors, Angel not only reaffirms herself as a great composer, but also as a great visionary who looks deep into a frosted mirror. As serious a look as possible, Olsen, dressed in an outfit of a chic 60’s lady and crafted in a sepia tone, invites you to tell a story where sadness dominates even the happiest moments.
All Mirrors, in a way, it’s a function of the second degree. The sound parable built on this LP is something transcendental, not only because of the amazing atmosphere created, but also for all its complexity in every layer. The curve that stars with a point located where the sadness and exaggeration meet (darkest sounds), reaches hope in a renewal season (not so dark) e ends up in where heat is not only torturous for the skin, but for the soul (the dark sounds are back). In fact, All Mirrors is a curve to the past. However, isn’t about setback, but is about learn from past teachings and experiences. In this function, the resultant is the present, and despite all the negative elements, we can somehow present and look for a positive present, and even, future.
Cohesively, it’s not just on the cover where Angel embodies the role of someone from the 60’s, but also on vocals. The vocal performance throughout the album is epic. Soft and violent at the same time, Olsen blended the sadness of a silly character with the power of an angry protagonist. With no doubt, Angel amazingly fits the non-dockable with the help of her amazing songwriting skills. The first song, “Lark”, it’s a look back, where Olsen tries to understand how she and everything has changed. Cautiously, the instruments are introduced gradually: at the beginning at first there are a few strings that flex smoothly, almost transparently, then, the drums say hello in the chorus reinforcing what Angel says in his tearful and powerful voice. All these elements corroborate to create an incredible progression in the first track, which at the end has a sanctifying cult on the bridge with the repetitive “DREAM ON, DREAM ON, DREAM ON”. After all, all the instruments come together and create a messy gust of emotions.
On All Mirrors, Angel also talks about the chains that bind her to the past. “All Mirrors”, the album name track, tells the story in which Angel was trapped in the past and there is no salvation. Like “Lark”, this track also worked with an incredible progression. After the voices from beyond that torment her, the cymbals arrive as riders of salvation, like a light in the darkness, but suddenly they mingle in the morbid impending piano, guitar and drums. In “Too Easy” Angel looks enchanted with love again. The love for love is also visible on the sonority that is lighter and electronic than the tracks before. Moving to “New Love Cassette”, Olsen becomes savior of what she once feared. The synthesizer sounds like guitars due to their terrifying tone dance with sober cymbals. In delirious “Spring”, the synthesizers at the end create a dance that sounds melancholy, but it’s actually the background of the lighter track on the album. On this track, the mainly thematic is how the things changed, and to exemplify this, Angel uses the thought of how she didn’t want children before, and now she has babies in her hands.
“What It Is” mixes violins and insane drums with percussions that sound like horseback riding movie themed music. But the horse here is the fake love, and the horseback riding is an unconscious adventure. This is another example of how Angel fits the non-dockable: the cymbals, synthesizers, the calm voice composed of acoustic and electronic layer and the horseback riding sonority. However, the movie that was free in a wild field becomes a tense movie in “Impasse”. The instruments in the deepest layer will create an atmospheric tension, and the most visible instruments sound slowly like Angel’s voice. At the chorus, where the instruments are at the climax, Olsen muffled a scream of a complaint about those who judge her because of the changes that have occurred to her. While “Impasse” is the Hitchcock’s movie soundtrack, “Tonight” became a waltz where Angel dances with herself. This track is worthy of becoming thematic music of a cult and sad movie, but the climax of self-love deceives the listener, who listens to the sweet, intense and calm melancholy.
After the hopeful “Spring”, “Summer”, despite having something less dense, it’s an account of Angel’s little hell – the depression. On this track, Angel chooses something more natural: guitars, sighs and pure vocals dominate the ears. “End Game” follows “Impasse”: very slow, not only in pronouncing the painful words, but also in the chords. The strings seem to come from a Mexican gang movie, the violin is worthy of Hitchcock’s attention, and the waltz moments are a proposal for a sad movie. All these elements together tell the story about how Olsen lost the people and things while she was changing her vision and opinions. To close All Mirrors, “Chance” gives a final change to the beauty of the world, not ignoring the bad side of the past, but learning from it. The final track sounds really romantic, which in fact is because it speaks, in a way, about self-love. The piano, the violin and the drums perform amazingly to the point of being worthy of a classic ball in the best place in town. But the golden key is Angel’s voice.
All Mirrors is incredible. Angel Olsen managed to create a cohesive, innovative and risky design, but in a curious way it seems extremely natural to her. Since the performance of the classic instruments and the treatment of electronic sounds up to the thematic and vocal delivered, everything on this project fits and talk. The details of happy, sad, tense and calm moments are not only represented by the lyrics, but also by the Olsen’s voice that can reach many levels and layers. At the end, All Mirrors it’s not just a testimony, but a timeless story