...give me a chance to explain.
Olivia Rodrigo’s debut LP, “SOUR”, was an album I wasn’t necessarily too excited on listening to. The actor turned musician was a name that I didn’t really know of until this year's biggest hit so far, “drivers license”. This ultimately was my first impression of her, but what I was left with was an empty listen. My care for her artistry was at an all time low, before even looking into more things. But one thing I did take from that is that she is a pretty good vocalist. Months passed and “deja vu” was released, reaping the same results from before, but showing more artistic growth. My interest for the album did seem to go up at this point though, as it showed that more detailed instrumentation could fit her stylistic choices in better ways. Then “good 4 u” came out, which blew me away, for her standards at least. Sure, it’s not out of this world content, but I felt this genre/style fit her song-writing and vocals the best so far. This is when I was excited for her debut.
With my interest at an all time high, and couldn’t wait to listen to the album, what were my thoughts afterwards? Well, it lived up to everything that I wanted it to be honestly. But let’s start with this, what did I want from Olivia? I didn’t expect masterpiece levels, and that’s not what we received either. What I wanted was a solid pop album and that’s exactly what she provided, but also distancing herself from the “drivers license-esque” style with (in my opinion) low budget production and decent vocal performances. But with that, which I’ll elaborate more on later, this album isn’t exactly the boundary pusher for pop at all, but I think it’s derivative moments collected into one bunch is what makes it slightly unique to Olivia forming her own style.
The record is kicked off with the boisterous opener “brutal”, in the pop-punk genre. Extending off of “good 4 u” style, making it for me personally enjoyable. This transitions into the more tame ballad “traitor”. Completely showing off her vocals from not only the melody itself, but the vocal harmonies in the background. More prevalent in tracks like “1 step forward, 3 steps back” and “happier”. These tracks are some of more stripped back, guitar centric/piano ballad esque songs. Whether it was Olivia’s choice or not, nevertheless, the balance between pop-punk, pop, and indie, was rather not done perfectly but in a serviceable fashion. These songs though, although good, aren’t the most replayable for me. But with “SOUR”, there’s actual a few songs that I would revisit quite often. For example, “jealousy, jealousy” and “good 4 u” are actually incredibly solid tracks. Both being in that pop-punk aura, mostly feeling poppy and the instrumentals being incredibly bare/generic for that genre. This seems negative but this makes her voice shine quite a lot more in my opinion. (Haha MGK done right!). This album also doesn’t go without it’s negatives… specifically being the most popular, “drivers license”. Now I won’t sit here and hate on the song itself as on its own, it’s not a bad track, but it sounds like a watered down Lorde song. But even with that, everything else is solid and is something to be appreciated.
Starting off with the positives of the record, is mostly Olivia’s vocal performances. A lot of the criticisms that are stemmed for Olivia’s artistry is her own voice, but I think her voice is really nice. She clearly has talent, and technical ability. Out of this world? No. Serviceable? Yes, maybe even more than that. Mixed with great production, which for the mostpart on this record, done right, Olivia has the ability to curate good music. Great production choices, stunning vocal performances, and a focused subject, what more can you ask for? Well…
...but any album comes with it’s negatives. Although I enjoyed this quite a lot, there’s a few things I’d change. The more stripped back, indie-esque tracks off this album are completely hit or miss for me. They either are one of the highlights off the record or they blend in and completely bore me. If this was an EP, this would be significantly better than it turned out. I felt the tracks, especially in the bottom half of the record, overstayed its welcome and should’ve been cut out. Another gripe I seem to have is the lyricism. The record’s lyricism is clearly focused, which is good. An album’s subject-matter doesn’t have to be on one specific thing but when it is, it provides a lot. But, Olivia’s song-writing ability is clearly in its early stages. The lack of depth in it’s lyrics, nothing much to interpret, it’s just what it sounds like. That drags down it’s quality as it seems like she is struggling to match everything else.
Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR” was definitely the biggest surprise of my night. First impressions going from generic pop industry plant, to a genuinely solid pop artist that has revisitable music was definitely not the left turn I expected. Sure, the album doesn’t reach much out of it’s genre, and isn’t experimental, 100% original… but should we expect that from the young artist? No, I’m going to take this album for what it is. A solid project.
Favorite Tracks: deja vu, good 4 u, enough for you, jealousy, jealousy, favorite crime
Least Favorite Track: drivers license