Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness

by Greg Spencer Rating:8 Release Date:2014-02-17

Burn Your Fire for No Witness opens with a slow, bitter and surprisingly melancholic tone. There's a begrudging feel to 'Unfucktheworld' which kicks the album off - two minutes of Olsen's muffled vocals and a sombre guitar, simplicity at its best. There's something quite beautiful about her voice and also about how downbeat her tone is: “You may not be around/ I am the only one now”, is how she ends the track. Depressing as it is, there is something gorgeously visceral about the way she vocalizes and it sets the record up perfectly.

 

There's so much to love with 'Forgiven/Forgotten'; its much more upbeat than the album's opener and Olsen's vocals just breeze along over the instrumentation effortlessly. There's fuzziness, sure, but we're expecting that. On this track she lets her voice lead the line and, again, simplicity prevails and it works wonders. Her voice has never sounded better than on 'White Fire', which breathes a frozen air over the record. Olsen's vocals scintillate and shimmer but all the while it sounds like this is easy work; everything is understated which makes her music all the more captivating.

 

This isn't for everyone, though. You could play 'White Fire' to any number of people and the reactions would probably be quite divided. There's part of you that needs a few listens to fully appreciate it. The slow and brooding nature of the track will appeal to many but the time which Olsen takes could be quite alienating too.

 

There's something about 'Lights Out' which is more beautiful than anything else on the album, something melodramatic which just hits you. Not the sort of Anna Calvi melodrama - we're more into Kate Bush territory with this song. Its tremendous and emotionally empowering from the start.

 

Another gem is 'Iota'. Olsen's simple lyrics ("If only all our dreams were coming true/ maybe there'd be some time for me and you”) resonate beautifully and her pitch-perfect delivery of every line strikes a real chord. It's a stripped-back number which feels so undemanding and uncomplicated that it just works fantastically well. Yet its themes seem in total contrast to the beginning of the record. Sure, there's regret in her lyrics but there's positivity shining through and so the album feels like Olsen's journey through a particular period of her life.

 

You could say the record gets a little bit boring or monotonous at times but, listening to the album closer 'Windows', any such criticisms fall short because of how beautiful the ending of the album is. Soft, unassuming and angelic are just three ways of describing the record's end, one which puts you through a whole range of emotions. Angel Olsen should be huge and here's hoping this beautiful record helps her on her way.  

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