In 2019, Sharon Van Etten followed up a decade-long run of great albums with Remind Me Tomorrow, which embraced synthpop and Springsteen-sized anthems and registered as her best and most immediate yet. 11 months after its release, we named it one of the very best albums of the 2010s. It's the kind of career milestone that leaves fans wondering "where will -- or could -- they go from here?" For Sharon, the answer was even deeper, more immersive musical territory than ever before.

Sharon has released a handful of songs since Remind Me Tomorrow, including the especially great Angel Olsen collab "Like I Used To," but none of those end up on her new album We've Been Going About This All Wrong. It's the first album of Sharon's career to be released without any pre-release singles, and this is exactly the kind of album that deserves to be heard as one grand statement. There's no "Comeback Kid" or "Seventeen" or "Every Time the Sun Comes Up" or "Serpents," and We've Been Going About This All Wrong doesn't need one. The closest it does come to a big, catchy anthem is "Mistakes," which we don't hear until the second to last track of this dense, suspenseful album, and the payoff is so much more worth it than if Sharon would've put that one out as a red herring lead single. Outside of "Mistakes," We've Been Going About This All Wrong pulls from delicate acoustic folk music, somber piano balladry, and strident art rock, fleshed out by sweeping arrangements and some of the most powerful vocal performances of Sharon's career thus far.

It's an overall darker album than Sharon has ever released, and the music envelopes you in a way that Sharon's previous albums never did, but it isn't just about darkness. The album is said to have been inspired by motherhood, love, fear, loss, trauma, and the state the world has been in these past few years, but even down to its title, you can sense hope in this album too. "We've been going about this all wrong" doesn't just suggest helplessness; it also suggests that answers do exist and things can be better. The songs on this album give off a similar feeling. Even the ones that start off sounding the most haunted reach climaxes that feel inspiring and uplifting.

We've Been Going About All This All Wrong is out now via Jagjaguwar. Pick it up on marble smoke vinyl. Stream it below. A video for "Mistakes" premieres today too.



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