Twenty-seconds of stillness lures the listener into the sometimes claustrophobic world of Angel Olsen’s fourth studio album, All Mirrors. A misleadingly calm introduction steadily sprouts soft guitar strumming paired with a percussive pattern mimicking a heartbeat. Beneath, strings assemble and take flight, piloted by her soaring vocals. The intensity of the arrangement is striking and frightful; the heartbeat quickens as we wonder whether the protagonist will make it out unscathed. In a little over six-minutes, the song conjures a similar sensory experience to that of a Hitchcock film. It sets you up for twists and turns, tenderness and tenacity.
Musically, All Mirrors is her most engrossing, bombastic and cinematic output, to date. Huge drums on the titular track promptly get under your skin, sweeping string arrangements on New Cassette Love lift you up like a magic carpet beneath your feet.
With John Congleton in the producer’s chair, we’re presented with an added layer of grit in the dark textures of Impasse and Too Early. It heralds his recent collaborations with St. Vincent and Sharon Van Etten. To balance this, a locomotive T-Rex-like beat on What It Is brings forth a sense of abandon while Summer’s galloping instrumentation conjures a golden image of America’s Midwest.
Overall, an utterly sublime album.
Words: Zara Hedderman
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