Where are the Girlbands review Maria Olsen’s debut EP ‘Wide-eyed, poorly timed’

Wide-eyed, poorly timed’, the debut EP by Liverpool-based Norwegian artist Maria Olsen is a deeply accomplished work. Atmospheric, intensely personal, warm and precise. From its cleanly complex production to the intimate lyrics, this EP radiates a golden glow that will emboss itself within each and every listener.

The EP opens with vocals shining out like god rays through cloud. ‘Since you went away’ sings a hymn of regret. Worshipping the past, confessing at the feet of what once was, Maria Olsen’s silken voice drapes across accompanying sounds like lace trailing on a paved church floor. The track transforms, dripping into deeper and darker places, holding silence that’s broken by the expanding of synths and lyrics that burst through like roots through the gaps in concrete. A stunning opening track.

Maria Olsen’s debut single follows. Drifting in with sweet melodies and the stripped back sound of acoustic guitar, ‘Call me your maybe’ reaches out with a gentle naivety. Vocals are layered, sounds are withheld and melodies slip in and out like trains of thought, making this track feel like an early morning conversation or an admission to a friend. Intimate and profound, both lyrics and instrumentation embrace uncertainty and vulnerability, showing up exactly as they are felt. 

‘No fun’ moves away from the melancholy tone of the previous tracks, picking you up from the couch where you’ve been sat in your feelings, inviting you to get up and dance in the twilight of your living room. The placement of the track in the EP feels perfectly aligned with its concept, breaking the deep reveries and choral layering of lyrics to something faster and unpredictable. If you’re a fan of the likes of Alice Phoebe Lou this will immediately be added to your favourite playlists. 

‘Beg’ washes in. Sonically this track is like foam and wave, some sounds are clean, some sounds are distorted, all of it is ebbing and flowing, soaking into Alice Olsen’s blissful vocals. Throughout the EP there is a directness both through the words sang and in their delivery. Nothing here feels constructed, it all feels natural, like instrumentation, feeling, lyrics and the experience of listening have all bloomed from the same seed, spreading out into leaves and petals, some falling as the EP progresses, others flaring out in bright colours. This track is rich and gentle, it cradles you, invites you in and asks you questions. 

The EP concludes with ‘Take me away, you know you made me’, shifting pace into something that feels more experimental. Those angelic vocals remain, but the accompaniment feels distinctive, exerting an edge to the music that’s much sharper than previous tracks. This song feels loud despite its incredibly soft delivery, and leaves you on a promise of more to come from this astonishing new voice on the Liverpool scene.