Home Read Albums Of The Week: Angel Olsen | Aisles

Albums Of The Week: Angel Olsen | Aisles

The singer-songwriter ♥️s the ’80s with this set of smouldering synth-pop covers.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Angel Olsen’s Aisles EP is comprised of head-turning covers of five ’80s classics: Gloria (Laura Branigan), Eyes Without A Face (Billy Idol), Safety Dance (Men Without Hats), If You Leave (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) and Forever Young (Alphaville). Olsen comments, “I know it’s not really in my history to do something unintentional or just for the hell of it, but my connection to these songs is pretty straightforward, I just wanted to have a little fun and be a little more spontaneous, and I think I needed to remember that I could!”

The EP was recorded in the winter of 2020 at Asheville’s Drop of Sun Studios with co-producer and engineer Adam McDaniel. Olsen had known McDaniel for years, and became better acquainted while trying to conquer the audio of live-stream at-home performances last spring. McDaniel and his wife Emily opened their home to Olsen throughout the previous summer and made it a safe space to create and let go before beginning tracking. “I told Adam I had an idea to record some covers and bring some of the band into the mix, or add other players. I needed to laugh and have fun and be a little less serious about the recording process in general,” says Olsen. “I thought about completely changing some of the songs and turning them inside out. I’d come over to find Adam had set up five or so synthesizers, and we’d get lost on a part for a while messing with some obscure pedal I knew nothing about. We’d spend a good amount of time going through sounds before finding one or two, sometimes we’d get real weird and decide to just go with it.”

Olsen’s take on Gloria crawls with reverberating synth and an arresting cello arrangement. As the song nears its end, her vocals ricochet into a dramatic vibrato. “I’d heard Gloria for the first time at a family Christmas gathering and was amazed at all the aunts who got up to dance. I imagined them all dancing and laughing in slow motion, and that’s when I got the idea to slow the entire song down and try it out in this way.”