Angel Olsen: ‘Windows’ Music Video Review

Courtesy of Angel Olsen via VEVO
Courtesy of Angel Olsen via VEVO

Angel Olsen, the indie rock and folk singer-songwriter from Asheville, North Carolina, recently released a music video for her latest single, “Windows.” The recent transplant from St. Louis released her second studio album back in February of this year, poetically titled Burn Your Fire for No Witness. Rick Alverson, a filmmaker and musician from Virginia, teamed up with Angel Olsen to direct this music video. Olsen and Alverson are also both represented by Jagjaguwar Records. Alverson, who has had films appear at Sundance and SXSW, has also created music videos for Sharon Van Etten, Bonnie Prince Billy, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. 

The music video for “Windows” is a gorgeously dark visual aid for the emotionally volatile theme behind the song. The first half of the music video is Angel Olsen at home with her children. Her home is isolated from the rest of the world, situated amongst rows and rows of overgrown fields and forestry. Throughout the video, Olsen displays no emotion on her face. She walks around, but appears blank and unmotivated by the world around her. Her kids run about wildly and lightheartedly, yet Olsen is tied up with something clouding her mind. 

The pacing and careful attention to each shot is what really captures the dreary and depressing mood. Long shots and slow cutting isn’t usually what comes to mind when you think of music videos, but it works beautifully here at capturing such unusual mystique. The stark contrast behind the bright, lush environment of the outdoors and the dark, lifelessness of the interior of the house beautifully depicts the emotions behind “Windows.” It’s simple, powerful, and moving. It also gives depth and meaning to the repeated lyric, “what’s so wrong with the light?” 

Even as the young children playfully rub petroleum jelly on her face, Olsen is still unmoved. The last minute of the video is a stark divergence from the rest. The video dissolves to Olsen dressed up in Victorian-era garb, as if she’s a queen, duchess, or some line of royalty. She appears to be in a studio or a timeless room, where autumn-colored flowers, bushes, and leaves surround her. In fact, the whole video is filled with contrast. There’s the contrast between time frames, between the spirit of the children and the bleak mother, and between the light and darkness (both internal as well as external). Angel Olsen and Rick Alverson create a strikingly bold visual of the emotional torment behind Olsen’s dead eyes.