The cover art that is inviting, but also a silhouette of Olsen becomes nostalgic. As if an older record that spins from the previous generation, dust and thick crackles and pops are present through the recording, even when seen digitally. Over the six tracks, the 21 minute runtime is less about a sprint and more about sustainability through sound. Her opening work of “Tiniest Lights” is both graceful and heartbreaking; Two hands of stone that overturn to become housing for plant life.
Dwelling with the guitar strings that are isolated, plucking to be the only instrumentation while Olsen is practically a songbird trapped behind this glass enclosure. Instead of breaking through or flying over, she stays muddied but is essentially covered in a gleaming gloss. When she is able to achieve these high notes, her voice never breaks and is vigilant, even bursting through and beginning to crack through the cage.
Later on “Some Things Cosmic,” Olsen is able to relax in the waves that cascade and wash away more pain than they bring.
It is only when the record stops spinning and the final piece of “Creator, Destroyer” begins to sprawl as her solemn curtain call. The light show spans and is centric around her. The energy that she debuts is orbital and lays stepping stones that years later have finally been able to become realized.
Rather than pounding and destroying, Strange Cacti is a formation of growth surrounded by more poetic writing and easily digestible final productions. As time marches on toward the inevitable abyss, Olsen can champion expression through simple, but compelling performance.