Whole New Mess is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Angel Olsen, released on August 28, 2020 on Jagjaguwar.[3] Recorded by Olsen and engineer Michael Harris in a converted church, the album features tracks from her 2019 album, All Mirrors, arranged in a more intimate style.[3]


Whole New Mess was recorded over ten days in October 2018 with engineers Michael Harris and Nicholas Wilbur. The pair worked in isolation in Anacortes, Washington, notable as the hometown of independent musician Phil Elverum, recording in a converted Catholic church.[4] Olsen would use the church's corridors to create a natural echo effect on her vocals.[4]

The album was recorded prior to Olsen's 2019 studio album, All Mirrors, which features many of the same compositions in a different form: "When we made [Whole New Mess], I was still processing a lot of the songs, so for me, it’s harder to listen to this record than it is for me to listen to All Mirrors. When I recorded All Mirrors, other people had their hands in the pot, which separated me from the songs. I could get into them in a distant way. On Whole New Mess I’m feeling every feeling that they evoke."[4]


The album was written following the collapse of a romantic relationship, with Olsen noting: "I was really depressed. I had no idea whether the songs were good. They were just about my life. I could have recorded them at home and kept them as demos, but I knew Michael [Harris] was someone I could be depressed in front of, who would help me to explore it in different ways. It was such an emotional process."[4]

Critical reception

The album was critically acclaimed upon its release. At Metacritic, based on fifteen professional reviews, it received a weighted average score of 83 out of 100.[5]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Consequence of SoundB+[8]
The Line of Best Fit7.5/10[11]
Loud and Quiet9/10[12]
Rolling Stone[16]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Angel Olsen

Whole New Mess track listing
1."Whole New Mess"3:42
2."Too Easy (Bigger Than Us)"2:32
3."(New Love) Cassette"2:50
4."(We Are All Mirrors)"2:36
5."(Summer Song)"4:09
6."Waving, Smiling"3:52
7."Tonight (Without You)"4:01
8."Lark Song"6:30
9."Impasse (Workin' for the Name)"3:48
10."Chance (Forever Love)"5:29
11."What It Is (What It Is)"2:36
Total length:42:05



Chart performance for Whole New Mess
Chart (2020)Peak
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[17]38
Scottish Albums (OCC)[18]29
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[19]98
UK Americana Albums (OCC)[20]1
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[21]10
UK Album Sales Chart (OCC)[22]37


  1. ^ "Angel Olsen - Whole New Mess". Discogs. 2020. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  2. ^ Martoccio, Angie (August 28, 2020). "Angel Olsen Strips Down Her Songs on the Intimate 'Whole New Mess'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Hussey, Allison (July 28, 2020). "Angel Olsen Announces New Album, Shares New Song "Whole New Mess": Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Smyth, David (August 28, 2020). "Angel Olsen interview: 'You know what? Misery is always in vogue'". Evening Standard. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Whole New Mess by Angel Olsen Reviews and Tracks". Metacritic. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  6. ^ "Whole New Mess by Angel Olsen reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  7. ^ Donelson, Marcy. Review of Whole New Mess at AllMusic. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  8. ^ Dzubay, Laura (28 August 2020). "Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess Redefines Familiar Specters: Review". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  9. ^ Johnstone Orr, Jack (27 August 2020). "ANGEL OLSEN - WHOLE NEW MESS". DIY. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  10. ^ Bell, Kaelen. "Angel Olsen Makes Familiar Songs Sound Entirely New on 'Whole New Mess'". Exclaim!. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  11. ^ Hakimian, Rob. "Angel Olsen expertly exposes the rawness of love and heartbreak". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  12. ^ Crabtree, Isabel (August 24, 2020). "Angel Olsen - Whole New Mess - Album Review". Loud and Quiet. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  13. ^ Cooper, Leonie (27 August 2020). "Angel Olsen – 'Whole New Mess' review: raw vulnerability, and kernels of hope". NME. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  14. ^ Meyer, Jack (August 25, 2020). "Angel Olsen Goes Back to Basics on Whole New Mess". Paste. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  15. ^ Pelly, Jenn. "Angel Olsen: Whole New Mess Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  16. ^ Martoccio, Angie (28 August 2020). "Angel Olsen Strips Down Her Songs on the Intimate 'Whole New Mess'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  17. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  18. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  19. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  20. ^ "Official Americana Albums Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  21. ^ "Official Independent Albums Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  22. ^ "Official Albums Sales Chart Top 100 – 4 September 2022". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 11, 2022.