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Angel Olsen - Whole New Mess: Mini Review

The initial hype derived from Angel Olsen season as she was preparing to drop a new album, Whole New Mess, and the first single really drove that idea home. It wasn’t what was expected at first, but what she delivers is a niche approach to her previous album All Mirrors. It was a new approach, like Whole New Mess, that ranged her vocals between soft pop-rock and chamber/baroque pop instrumentations. Whole New Mess takes its namesake and delivers on a literal level, though not always negatively.

Whole New Mess is mostly a new arrangement of the songs from All Mirrors, but with rustic acoustic overtures. It is an intimate approach by Angel Olsen that sometimes isn’t all there with the rough patches in the mixing. There are times that the mixing creates a smoothness to the rustic sound focused throughout.

It benefits in sounding like a live recording of a slightly somber night cafe performance. And there are many that do shine through like “Too Easy,” one of the more refined songs on Whole New Mess.

It has a lot of high moments and some moments where it doesn’t fully connect. These renditions don’t do anything special or different to the songs she lays out. Like on “Tonight (With You),” which has a designed iphone recorded and mastered layout that is more of a bore than the version on All Mirrors.

It is an easily accessible version of All Mirrors with two differential points of direction, sound and arrangement. It doesn’t come to a surprise as the type of album it is, with many artists releasing deluxe versions. And in turn those versions include from a few new tracks to pretty much a whole album. In a way this is structured in similar trend fashion while still maintaining some fresh consistency.

The new tracks have a more professionally recorded rendition of that rustic sound and they blend well in the track list. “Waiving, Smiling,” the main single off Whole New Mess, turns the overtly used theme of resilience into an intimate and powerfully moody anthem. It truly does add more to the album that is already wary of not going above too much. Whole New Mess is a great addition to Angel Olsen’s discography even when it wasn’t what was expected at first.


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