Recommend if you like: The Beach Boys, The Pixies

Expectation: The third full-length album from the indie rock singer-songwriter Angel Olsen.

TRACK-BY-TRACK

  • Intern – A patient, mellow opening track that shows off the impressive range and tone of Olsen’s vocals.
  • Never Be Mine – A sweet rock song with a very 1950’s feeling to it, though the melody of the chorus sounds like straight Beach Boys.
  • Shut Up Kiss Me – Meeting somewhere between jangle pop and The Pixies, this song is a fantastic clashing of musical styles. Olsen sings her oldschool love song chorus “Shut up, kiss me, hold me tight” into a low-fi mic with the intensity and dynamic contrast of a 90’s indie rocker. Even the instrumentation of the chorus shifts stylistically halfway through, though the consistency of tone ties it all together. As a side note, heavily compressed vocals over a clear backing choir is a brilliant idea and sounds amazing.
  • Give It Up – A similar mix of inspirations as the track previous, though less dynamic in the utilization of those styles. Still pretty good, just a bit safer.
  • Not Gonna Kill You – The different rhythm is refreshing, and the chorus sounds very Fleetwood Mac, which is a good thing. Slightly too long, but a good song.
  • Heart Shaped Face – A folksy ballad with a huge, echoing sound to it that creates an almost psychedelic feel.
  • Sister – The division of duties here is excellent: the bass and drums remain tight and punctual, holding the song to a solid foundation, while Olsen’s vocals and guitars ring and reverberate fluidly in the upper register. The vocal performance here is especially impressive.
  • Those Were the Days – A cool dream pop track. I love the use of harmonics by the rhythm guitar in the bridge.
  • Woman – This track really didn’t need to be over seven minutes long, but it is a really lovely song. I respect the commitment to the slow build though.
  • Pops – Not my favorite song here, if only because I felt the constrictiveness of a piano ballad limited Olsen’s compositional ability.Still a pretty song, just not as good as the rest.

Overall: I was unaware of Angel Olsen prior to this album, so the quality of the songwriting here was a very pleasant surprise. Olsen blends rock sounds from several decades, though with a bit of favoritism towards 60’s folk rock, creating a familiar but subtly inventive type of rock album. She makes clever use of her lyrics to emphasize the stylistic contrasts further. Though the album is 47 minutes long, the majority of it flies by with only a few moments of slack anywhere on it, making it one of my favorite rock albums of this year.

Score: 7/10

Advertisements