Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

Sharon Van Etten – Mistakes

Few made here…


Andrew Karpan: Throughout most of June, I found myself returning quixotically to the blaring basslines of the somehow optimistic lead single from Sharon Van Etten’s latest move away from the austere sadness that defined her early work as a respected folkie. If there is anything awkward and ill-fitting about ’80s chic, there’s something comforting about the fact that she will be the first to admit it. Only after the tenth or so listen, do I hear her liken her moves to Elaine from Seinfeld — can you imagine Mitski admitting that? In the end, there is little to apologize for, even if that’s wrapped up in the song’s whole point; which I read as the promise of grace in exchange for waking up and making a few mistakes.

Harlan Talib Ockey: Sharon Van Etten superbly deploys her signature skill of rendering a whole novel’s worth of description in just a few stark, incisive lines, and her vocal delivery in the chorus perfectly matches the buoyancy of the narrative. What weighs “Mistakes” down is the production. It feels infinitely less emotive and textured than much of her previous work, lacking both the multilayered complexity of Remind Me Tomorrow and the crackling, concert-like intensity of Are We There. In comparison, “Mistakes” plods along listlessly, chasing the spark in Van Etten’s vocals but never capturing it.

Ian Mathers: At first the way the song plods feels like a mistake. But as it goes on it accumulates momentum and brawn as Van Etten keeps pounding away at the central message, and you know what? It’s much better than that.

Thomas Inskeep: Tough, with lightly fuzzed-out guitar, committed vocals, and a rhythm track that actually moves, if Van Etten’s voice were a tad higher you’d almost mistake this for a late 2000s Yeah Yeah Yeahs track — it’s that good. Maybe indie rock isn’t dead after all.

Hannah Jocelyn: Jack Antonoff is John Congleton for people whose Sharon Van Etten is Lana Del Rey, so his production credit here makes sense, except I’m lying and he doesn’t actually have a production credit. Yet this has a strange faded quality I associate with Antonoff’s newer productions; not exactly dreamy so much as the moment immediately after the dream ends and fades from memory. The lyrics don’t help, leaning into Van Etten’s worst tendencies with their vagueness: “When I make a mistake/turns out it’s great/it’s much better than that.” Uh, good for you, Sharon! She makes it work because her smoky, anguished vocals can make anything work, and that voice sticks with me more than any synths or lyrics. But maybe a song about loving mistakes would mean something if this didn’t feel so safe.

Alfred Soto: Unafraid to use the conventions of melodrama to limn her romantic crises, Sharon Van Etten excels at loudness. When he yells about mistakes, she blames herself and shames us. I don’t recoil. Credit those synths.

Reader average: [2.33] (3 votes)

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One Response to “Sharon Van Etten – Mistakes”

  1. I believe there’s a couple buckets of neglected dicks you’re supposed to have eaten by now.