Sour is out via Geffen Records
Less than six months after her life-altering debut single “drivers license,” teen pop star Olivia Rodrigo has delivered Sour, her sparkling debut album.
Sour explores deeply personal themes of heartbreak, failure, and insecurity that transcend Olivia’s age. From betrayal (“traitor,” “happier”) and anguish (“1 step forward, 3 steps back,” “favorite crime”), to insecurity (“enough for you,” “jealousy, jealousy”) and anxiety (“brutal”), Rodrigo does not hold back, and it makes for an album you won’t want to put down.
Making a name for herself globally with “drivers license,” the piano ballad that amassed over one billion streams in the blink of an eye and was inescapable on TikTok, Olivia Rodrigo’s vision of topping the charts were quickly met. Despite such a delicate power hit on her hands, the experimentation and juxtaposition of indie-rock, alt-pop, and early 2000s demonstrate Olivia’s desire to propel herself beyond the shadow of her first single.
Upbeat rock songs are fewer and farther than the ballads, but their presence shows off Rodrigo’s genre-defying lyrical and vocal prowess. “Brutal” is already a fan favorite with its unrelenting guitars and angsty hooks reminiscent of Avril Lavigne or Paramore. The latter’s influence is also felt on the Alexander 23 co-produced “good 4 u,” which sounds eerily similar to “Misery Business.”
Catchy and unapologetically angry, even with its likeness, the song is a refreshing addition to Rodrigo’s catalog. And while some inspirations are noticeable, they never distract from Olivia’s unique, adept strengths as a musician, as seen with “deja vu,” one of the best songs on the project.
Watch the “good 4 u” video
Much like her first single, “1 step forward, 3 steps back” is stunningly tragic and relies on the keys that pulled our heartstrings on “drivers license.” Evocative of folklore and evermore in its warmth and lyricism, it’s a welcome surprise to see Taylor Swift credited as a co-songwriter with longtime cohort Jack Antonoff.
“Happier,” also piano-driven, finds Rodrigo at her most vulnerable and confessional, as she admits to hoping her ex is happy but not happier without her. Reminiscent of another Dan Nigro-produced track, Conan Gray’s “Heather,” the song is cinematic and a scorching standout. An almost complete contrast to the discordant synths and funky bass lines of “jealousy, jealousy,” the gritty, alt-pop dream that follows.
Cohesive and distinct, Olivia is irrevocably honest in her melancholy storytelling, and it sonically alludes to the showstopping moments fans will experience during her inevitable Sour tour. Other ballads like “traitor” are driven by gentle acoustic guitars, haunting organs, and layered harmonies to craft an ethereal hit. “Enough for you” is also delicate and sweet but touches on themes of anxiety, insecurity, and acceptance. Like “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” “favorite crime” explores a folk-drive, acoustic sound. Simple in its instrumental, Rodrigo’s graceful voice shines.
The final song on the album, “hope ur ok,” arrives as one of the more calculated additions to the tracklist. While not directly about romantic heartbreak, the song retells stories of love lost and strained friendships.
Like “The Story,” the heart-draining album closer to Conan Gray’s debut album and also produced by Dan Nigro, the song shows a different side of Olivia Rodrigo after the scathing power pop found earlier on. The song is beautiful and makes a compelling case for listening all over again. The song’s outro is also the recognizable love theme from “Avatar the Last Airbender,” an interesting addition to the list of Olivia Rodrigo’s musical influences.
Deeply personal and without any skips, Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour transcends teen pop and hits right in the soul of anyone that’s ever felt betrayal and heartbreak. She’s crafted a masterful album already demanding the attention of audiences of all ages. With a record-shattering debut album under her belt and a fervent fanbase quickly growing, Olivia Rodrigo is a force to be reckoned with and a clear 2022 “Best New Artist” frontrunner. Stream Sour here.
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