Header image credit: Michael Schmelling
By John Siden
It’s time for a review of the new Sharon Van Etten album We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong. Hmmmmm…I seem to have heard something like that somewhere before. Anyway, let’s take a look at this album.
We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong is Sharon’s sixth album and first since 2019’s Remind Me Tomorrow. In between, there have been a few songs including a collaboration with Angel Olsen called “Like I Used To.”
In the months prior to the release of this record no early singles were released. Van Etten instead said she wanted people to experience it as a whole without previews. That’s a pretty cool approach, and I would say it worked. It should be noted that the new songs “Porta,” and “Used To It” were released, but do not appear on this latest record.
The album opens with “Darkness Fades.” The song starts slowly but kicks things into gear after ninety seconds or so. From there, it just builds and builds. It’s a truly great opener. “Home To Me” is another slow burner screaming with emotion. Very raw but also melodic. This one doesn’t go big like the first track but is still very powerful. “I’ll Try” is track three and has the same tone as the previous songs. Drums kick in and it gets bigger and louder and features another great chorus.
“Anything” starts off with acoustic guitar and a vocal hook to suck you in. Goddamn, I love her voice. This is a very strong track. I was a little sad when this one ended, to be honest. The next track. “Born,” is very moody and dark-sounding. Consistent with the mood of this record, the song features more awesome melodies and builds to a crescendo you would expect from a Sigur Rós song. A totally amazing track that fools you with its simplicity at the start, but destroys you in the end.
“Headspace” continues the ride with mostly drums and synth to begin. One of my favorite vocal melodies is the chorus with the words, “Baby, don’t turn your back on me.” “Come Back” follows the pattern of the slow acoustic beginning, and growing to a peak of epic proportions. Even if it is a little understated at the start. “Darkish” is a slower acoustic tune that makes me think of her first album Because I Was In Love.
“Mistakes” is the first single and you immediately can hear why. A big-sounding slick song with hooks to burn. There is also a great video for the song as well. Far away closes out the record and is another somewhat ballad-ish mellow song. A good way to wrap things up.
I think for me, this currently is my second favorite release from Sharon Van Etten behind Are We There. It could possibly rise up and take the top spot. I like it much more than Remind Me Tomorrow, but now I can see how vital that record and her transformation on it were so that she could get to this point, and deliver this very open, raw piece of work.
Interested in learning more about Sharon Van Etten’s latest? Hit the link below:
Be sure to check out the full archives of Surface Noise, by John Siden, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/surface-noise-archives/