ALBUM OF THE WEEK
“I am the only one now,” sings Angel Olsen to conclude ‘Unfucktheworld’ – the lead track on her second LP. The quiet, tape-recorded tune is an apt prologue for the record’s thematic exploration of, and struggle against, solitude.
‘I’ is easily the most used word on Burn Your Fire For No Witness, but it’s not a closeted venture. The album has its fair share of woebegone moments – the most striking a breathy Leonard Cohen interpolation called ‘White Fire’ – but it also shows off a perkier side of Olsen’s personality. Backed by a drummer and bass player, while Olsen herself wields an electric guitar, ‘Forgiven/Forgotten’ is instantly nostalgic and positively catchy. The extra gusto makes her often wistful voice sound almost imperturbable as she sings, “I don’t know anything / But I love you”. Similarly, the bar-band tint to ‘Hi-Five’ provides the perfect platform for the year’s most unlikely spiritual exclamation: “Are you lonely too? High five – so am I!”
There’s no reliable safeguard against loneliness; whenever we sink back into our thoughts or lucidly grasp our being, it’s an eternally isolated experience. But this certainly isn’t enough reason to stop searching for redemptive unity.
Olsen draws from her subjective hurt to depict feelings that encroach upon all of us.
Out now on Jagjaguwar/Inertia.