Whole New Mess
Angel Olsen Whole New Mess Cover.png
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 28, 2020 (2020-08-28)
RecordedOctober 2018
StudioThe Unknown, Anacortes, Washington
GenreIndie rock,[1] Indie folk[2]
  • Angel Olsen
  • Michael Harris
Angel Olsen chronology
All Mirrors
Whole New Mess
Singles from Whole New Mess
  1. "Whole New Mess"
    Released: July 28, 2020
  2. "Waving, Smiling"
    Released: August 18, 2020

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 engineer Michael Harris. The pair worked in isolation in the town of Anacortes, Washington, 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 84 out of 100.[5]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[8]
Consequence of SoundB+[9]
DIY4/5 stars[10]
The Line of Best Fit7.5/10[12]
Loud and Quiet9/10[13]
NME4/5 stars[14]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[17]

Track listing

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)[18]38
Scottish Albums (OCC)[19]29
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[20]98


  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. ^ "Angel Olsen - Whole New Mess - Reviews". Album of the Year. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  7. ^ "Whole New Mess by Angel Olsen reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  8. ^ Donelson, Marcy. Review of Whole New Mess at AllMusic. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  9. ^ Dzubay, Laura. "Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess Redefines Familiar Specters: Review". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  10. ^ Johnstone Orr, Jack. "ANGEL OLSEN - WHOLE NEW MESS". DIY. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  11. ^ Bell, Kaelen. "Angel Olsen Makes Familiar Songs Sound Entirely New on 'Whole New Mess'". Exclaim!. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  12. ^ Hakimian, Rob. "Angel Olsen expertly exposes the rawness of love and heartbreak". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  13. ^ Crabtree, Isabel (August 24, 2020). "Angel Olsen - Whole New Mess - Album Review". Loud and Quiet. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  14. ^ Cooper, Leonie. "Angel Olsen – 'Whole New Mess' review: raw vulnerability, and kernels of hope". NME. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  15. ^ Meyer, Jack (August 25, 2020). "Angel Olsen Goes Back to Basics on Whole New Mess". Paste. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  16. ^ Pelly, Jenn. "Angel Olsen: Whole New Mess Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  17. ^ Martoccio, Angie (28 August 2020). "Angel Olsen Strips Down Her Songs on the Intimate 'Whole New Mess'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  19. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  20. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 9, 2020.