Angel Olsen – Sister (Music Video)
by Steven Spoerl
This week, barely half-over, has already seen the release of three remarkable split releases in the joint offerings from Bodies Be Rivers and Lacrymosa, Buildings and Volunteer, and — in what’s very possibly the split of the year — Continental Drift (that boasts songs from Mercury Girls, The Spook School, Tigercats, and Wildhoney). While that trio of titles should be inspirational for both musicians and listeners for some time, the last of these quartet of late-night posts once again falls to a clip. This time around, that clip comes in the form of site favorite Angel Olsen‘s latest slow-burner, “Sister”.
2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness remains one of the better records of recent memory, leaving Angel Olsen to face daunting expectation in crafting a follow-up. Any doubt that the songwriter wouldn’t be able to duplicate that peak have been all but eliminated by this point, thanks — in large part — to the breakout success of the brilliant “Shut Up Kiss Me“, which became an unlikely summer anthem immediately upon its release (and remains one of 2016’s most vivid and accomplished music videos).
Now, the songwriter’s following up that triumphant moment with another awe-inducing clip for the deeply impressive “Sister”, which runs for more than eight and a half minutes. Not a frame during that time span feels wasted, as Olsen once again occupies the driver’s seat (sharing directorial duties with Conor Hagen), forcibly taking control of several key creative aspects.
Now three songs (and memorable videos) into the rollout campaign for the forthcoming My Woman, Olsen continues to show flashes of underlying brilliance that’s been simmering underneath the surface. In “Sister” this comes by way of the realization that Olsen’s created something that doesn’t just serve as a portrait for the artist’s internal dialogues and conflicts but as a celebration of the environment that provides a comforting home for those thoughts.
“Sister” has a very formidable strength in its commitment to its primary setting, the sprawling desert landscapes that compose the bulk of the clip’s screen time. In establishing that setting, the final moments of the main narrative that see Olsen plunging into a pool become a cleansing that scans as both euphoric and rejuvenating. It’s a clever bit of juxtaposition that gains impact because of the patience exerted over nearly seven and a half minutes of traversing arid topography.
Tying everything together is the clip’s humanizing end tag of b-roll footage that spotlights a curious bystander that momentarily interrupted the shooting of “Sister”, providing an interaction that winds up being deeply endearing. It’s a moment of human interaction that pulls the clip away from the isolation it relentlessly showcased, injecting some levity into the video’s otherwise relentless, albeit quiet, intensity. The whole thing, once again, stands as a triumph and poises Olsen to be one of the most talked-about musicians of the year.
Watch “Sister” below and pre-order My Woman from Jagjaguwar here.