Regardless of the outcome, you have to give artists credit for taking their sound in new directions. With a new string section at her command, Angel Olsen does this with her fifth album, All Mirrors, a statement on self-examination that seems to say the mind is the grandest place of all.
Sure, any album that crosses a certain threshold of orchestration can be easily described as “grand.” But All Mirrors deserves the adjective in every sense. The arrangements compliment and punctuate powerful Olsen’s voice and pointed lyrics, rarely overshadowing them. One standout example is “New Love Cassette,” which would otherwise pass as a straightforward rock song. Similarly, the hazy atmosphere of the title track echoes ’90s balladry without going over-the-top.
Though it’s less obvious, All Mirrors does draw from the more polished spheres of indie. The breezy guitars and echoing vocals on “Summer” may remind you of Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. “What It Is,” with its heart-pounding rhythms and flying strings, evokes Grizzly Bear circa Veckatimest. The jauntier “Spring” follows in the footsteps of Weyes Blood and Sharon Van Etten’s standout efforts from this year.
Understandably, there will be some who miss Olsen’s earlier brand of indie rock. After all, she blew us our minds with the gritty Burn Your Fire for No Witness and the spirited MY WOMAN. Give All Mirrors a chance, and she’ll do it again.
Score: 🎻🎻🎻🎻 / 5