At least nine of the eleven songs on Whole New Mess should sound familiar to anyone who has heard All Mirrors, Olsen’s grand 2019 masterpiece. “Lark,” “Summer,” “Chance”—they are all here, at least in some skeletal form and with slightly different titles. But these are not the demos for All Mirrors. Instead, Whole New Mess is its own record with its own immovable mood.
Considered alongside All Mirrors, Whole New Mess is a reminder that songs are more than mere collections of words, chords, and melodies. They are webs of moods and moments and ideas, qualities that can change from one month to the next. In that sense, these 11 songs are entirely new. This is the sound of Angel Olsen, sorting through the kind of trouble we’ve all known, as if just for herself and whoever else needs it.