Olympia’s immersive new album Flamingo is not quite what it seems

Olympia’s immersive new album Flamingo is not quite what it seems

Australian multi-instrumentalist Olympia (aka Olivia Bartley) has released her explosive sophomore album, Flamingo.

The eleven tracks are deceptive in their tales of grief; instead of sadness on a silver platter they are raw, complex and rich with brilliant melodies.

olympia flamingo album review Pierre Toussaint
Photo: Pierre Toussaint

Olympia’s sophomore album Flamingo is an explosive and deceptively simple tale of grief and love. This “territorial love affair” will have you questioning everything you think you know.

This album is her follow up to 2016 debut, Self Talk, which earned Olympia an ARIA nomination for best new artist. Together they are linked by the same producer, Burke Reid, however Flamingo marks the dramatic departure from her familiar lyrical style.

Bartley states, “The record explores how grief and desire are intertwined. It’s referencing a personal tragedy – the addiction and loss of someone very close to me…”

Lead single and opening track Star City bursts into life with a ‘take it as you hear’ it attitude. Loaded with ’80s riffs and an immense driving force from the drums and bass, it’s infectious and impossible to keep still whilst listening to.

Simmering organs transport you into Come Back, a harsh and unconventional pop song. These complexities weave together to truely capture Olympia’s writing process for the album, self described as so:

I’ve tried to borrow from my own grief to create its inverse: something new; a territorial hope affair; a love letter from the living.” 

It’s almost halfway through the album when we are exposed to the most emotionally thawing song, Nervous Riders, blooming during a quiet moment on Flamingo. Allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in her vision, Olympia makes clear that this is not a project of catharsis – I chose to submit myself to this experience because I wanted to create from inside it, rather than simply explaining it.”

You can vividly hear her vulnerability in a visceral and shared perspective, additionally acting as a realisation. As the album progresses, suddenly Bartley’s fight between anguish and adoration becomes clear. No matter how upbeat the track is, these one-sided conversations are pivotal to Flamingo’s story.  

Off the back of more somber tunes like Won’t Say That, we’re triumphantly thrown straight back into rock beats, riffs and plenty of breakdowns. These shorter tracks are compelling and electrically charged listens acting a distraction from the lyrical brew of grief, desire, guilt and jealousy.

First You Leave immediately transports my vision to a slow dance at an American prom, the moment where the guy and the girl lock eyes. It’s in this spirit, but with a more redemptive cowboy progression that the title track Flamingo follows; “how much can a person change under this weight, still stay the same? / who you see when you look in the mirror, is it you? / we don’t want it to be true.” 

Olympia’s sophomore album Flamingo hides away a trove of complexities underneath a glittering pop rock mirage, it’s an album that deserves second, third, fourth, and fifth listens with a focus on unearthing those treasures. Where this artist is concerned, there’s certainly more than meets the eye.


Olympia’s tour will land in Australia on the below dates. Flamingo is out now.

October 5th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
October 11th – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
October 25th – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane

Grab your tickets here.