“If you still got sunlight in you, then go before it’s gone” croons Missouri born Angel Olsen on the track ‘White Fire’. If ever a lyric summed up an album, this is it. And while this may not work in favour of some musicians, this take on melancholia is pure perfection. The record seems to drift through varying human emotions, all circulating around one common theme – despair. From the off, the brooding ‘Unfucktheworld’, it is unsettling in its simplicity and honesty. Throughout we see Olsen dealing with a great loss, which brings the listener on a fair ground ride of emotions. The opening line, “I quite my dreaming the moment that I found you” feels like Olsen is coming to terms with not only this break – up, but the independence she’s lost amidst it all. Towards the end of the song she’s defiant “I am the only one now/ you may not be around.”
This line leads nicely, in to “Forgiven/Forgotten” – the musical equivalent of being extremely bitter but picking yourself up and hitting the town to, well, forgive and forget. The song is full of thrashing guitars and feedback and may seem unusual on this album, but paired with ‘White Fire’ it all make sense. The darkest song on the album, the party’s over, the memories come flooding back and the mood of the first track is back with added hangover.
‘Lights Out’ is Olsen’s country moment with her vocal range echoing that of a modern day’s Patsy Cline. Don’t let that put you off, as there’s still the atmospheric guitar work to keep the album focused. Towards the end, the songs become more hopeful with small flecks of sadness here and there, her voice more confident less strained. Closer ‘Windows’ shows how far she’s come with the lyrics “Won’t you open a window sometime/ What’s so wrong with the light?” She still has a lot of mending to do but is getting there day by day.
It is difficult to think of another record that captures the pain of losing someone so accurately. Olsen has taken a subject that has been done to death and shot it from each ugly angle. She takes the bolshie, independent stance but quickly follows it up with a heart – wrenching confession. Adopting the ‘actually I’m not okay, I was just pretending and I’m going to be depressed until I am fine again’ approach is quite rare, both in music and real life, but one that is far braver and far more real than anything else. A simple but vulnerable and absolutely sublime album, if this lady doesn’t stir some emotion in you, then you’re probably the person she’s singing about.