Out Now: Angel Olsen Transforms ’80s Classics from Billy Idol, Men Without Hats, OMD, Alphaville and Laura Branigan on ‘Aisles’ EP (Listen)

Adrian GarroCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Aisles is a new covers EP from singer/songwriter Angel Olsen, who tackles some seriously classic 1980s pop songs.

But worry not, reader — these are the best sort of cover songs, tributes that infuse the covering artist’s own musical identity into the material, as opposed to just straightforward covers carried out in pedestrian fashion.

The EP is out today, Aug. 20, on digital platforms, with a physical release coming Sept. 24.

Take, for example, “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats, now a slightly sinister slow burn:

Pondering the original song’s themes helped Olsen land at such a direction:

“I felt this song could be reinterpreted to be about the time of quarantine and the fear of being around anyone or having too much fun,” she said. “It made me wonder, is it safe to laugh or dance or be free of it all for just a moment?”

Click here to pre-order Aisles on LP from our Rock Cellar Store

Laura Branigan’s 1982 smash-hit disco/pop anthem “Gloria,” meanwhile, is now somber and deliberate:

Billy Idol‘s “Eyes Without a Face” always felt a bit dark on its own, and Olsen’s reinterpretation updates the feeling:

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “If You Leave,” formerly a danceable hit from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, is hushed (but still boasts that irresistible hook):

Alphaville’s “Forever Young” is now accentuated with a cascade of strings:

The EP was recorded in the winter of 2020 with Olsen’s co-producer and engineer Adam McDaniel — and it wasn’t really a “planned” project, so to speak.

“I know it’s not really in my history to do something unintentional or just for the hell of it, but my connection to these songs is pretty straightforward, I just wanted to have a little fun and be a little more spontaneous, and I think I needed to remember that I could!”

Stream the Aisles EP below.

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