Angel Olsen, "Burn Your Fire for No Witness"
Angel Olsen, "Burn Your Fire for No Witness" (Courtesy Photo)
Angel Olsen's second record, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, is both lovely and aggressive. It's a little bit weird and completely accessible.

First, the lovely bits. Olsen's voice is delicate and pretty, even when it's coated in vocal effects. The record has its delicate tracks, like "enemy," closer to traditional folk (though never quite there), and those let Olsen's voice do the work of pulling you in. Many of the melodies are downright joyful, too, even when some of the instrumentation or lyrics are not.

Now, the weird and aggressive. This isn't actually as weird as her last effort, Halfway Home, but there's still a freak folk element here. It's certainly not all pretty strumming, kick-drum beating and joyous shouting. Even peaceful, quiet moments like “White Fire” feature dark guitar picking and a vocal melody that moves to unexpected places. There are even some jangly folk-pop tendencies, even when the lyrical content is wounded or biting (see: “High & Wild). What really makes Burn Your Fire for No Witness feel aggressive is the electric guitar. Especially on the first three songs, it's harsh, spiky and dominant.

The extremes seem to be where Olsen shines -- sparse ballads and noisy rockers. It shows she's versatile and capable of making divergent sonic variations fit together on one record.