Olsen’s fifth album serves as a theatrical cry for authenticity whilst simultaneously revelling in the lack of fixed identity the “authentic” I represents, hinting at the surprising relationship between performance and truth.
Singer-songwriter Angel Olsen has been well regarded for her work that spans the indie landscape, her albums traversing the manifold territories of indie-rock, pop, folk & the fineries of contemporary synth pop.
“All Mirrors” marks a departure from Olsen’s previous sharp-sheer atmospheres in favour a rich accompaniment of stirring orchestral instrumentals. This, paired with tactile lyrics, serves to emphasise Olsen’s trademark vulnerability, culminating in an album of overwhelming affect.
The opening track “Lark” perfectly captures the tone of the record: at once a reminiscence & decrial. Olsen concludes the track through the repetition “Dream on” as the instrumental simultaneously swells, an explicit proclamation of the album’s intention: a lavish exorcism.
The title track, “All Mirrors” explores the circulatory in Olsen’s relationships, “watchin’ all of [her] past repeatin’” in a state of isolation. Confronted by these endless repetitions, cycles of birth and decay, a clear sense of longing emerges, a wish to stay in these moments even at the cost of life itself. Here we find Olsen crouching in a hall of mirrors, lamenting her distance from these recurring images: “At least at times I knew me”.
Yet a hint of solace is grasped in this.
The haunting ballad “Chance” concludes the album. From the rousing opening it gradually ebbs into quieter, more intimate tones, the penultimate verses taking on a tone of tenderness and sincerity, before a slight rousing towards the end of the track.
This affirmation is evidently not for her ex, or others, but rather Olsen herself, the positive culmination of the surgical intervention this album enacts.
Overall, “All Mirrors” captures Olsen at her finest and, appropriately, most brutal.
Cathartic yet self-affirming, this album displays how sincerity isn’t something purely for albums of stripped back guitars and and cracking, hesitant voices, but rather something that can be proudly proclaimed, over-the-top orchestra and all.
Last modified: 14th October 2019