Olympia is back yet again with a varied, slick and intelligent album, Flamingo. After her much talked about debut, Self Talk, which was nominated for the Australian Music Prize, Olivia Bartley (Olympia) has delivered again, this time with the help of Burke Reid, who has previously worked with Courtney Barnett. Out on Opposite Number Records, Flamingo is a collection of eleven differing tracks being held together by the thread of Olivia’s belting vocals. Often reminiscent of the likes of Anna Calvi, St Vincent, or looking further back, Debbie Harry. There is much to relish within this new 12″.
The artist born Olivia Bartley crafted Flamingo distinctly to be confronting and timeless, and yet confidently strong. The follow up to Self Talk, Olympia’s acclaimed 2016 debut, Flamingo is a conversation with someone in the grips of losing themselves. She uses her experience to elevate and strengthen her position, using it to create rather than it using her. However, the unhinged sound is there, though I suspect her use of this is indicative she is indeed hinged.
Scuzzy guitar-drenched opener Star City discordantly stomps through the ashes of childhood dreams gone awry, whereas Hounds struts with a similar raw energy, while the subconsciously toe-tapping track, Come Back, explores the need to articulate fantasy to survive: “These things that we do to get by / we invent, and we pretend / will you ever change your mind? / I’m not ready for the end.”
Explorative, dynamic and surreal at times, the record takes the listener on a contemplative, yet confrontational journey. Won’t Say That, stripped down to Bartley’s vocal and subtle guitar, bringing the tempo and vibe of the album right down, diminishing the visceral aspects. It requires more subdued rumination as it investigates contradictions felt in love and grief.
Two Hands is, however, my personal favourite, catchy and reminiscent of Louisa Roach’s She Drew The Gun as well as Courtney Barnett (now there’s a surprise) and with lyrics such as “she is something that you can’t have, can’t tie down,” there is something joyously feisty about this particular track. And in that respect is representative of the album.
Olympia’s Flamingo is available now, via Opposite Number Records.