SOUR: A superstar on the rise

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album SOUR is a masterpiece

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Interscope/Geffen Records

The cover art for Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album SOUR, which features global hits “drivers license,” “deja vu,” and “good 4 u.”

Overall rating: 4.5/5

After her global hits “drivers license” and “deja vu,” 18 year old Olivia Rodrigo had big shoes to fill with her debut album SOUR. The young singer released the 11 song collection on May 21, and it did not disappoint. The album has since broken records, topped charts, and received high praise.

Through a beautiful mix of pop-rock songs and emotional ballads, Rodrigo paints a hauntingly accurate picture of adolescence and teen angst. At times, her album is reminiscent of icons such as Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swift, and Lorde. Ultimately, however, SOUR is a reflection of Rodrigo’s growth as both a singer and songwriter.

The album opens with what is perhaps the most sonically unique track on the album: “brutal.” It begins with a somewhat deceiving Disney-esque melody, but quickly evolves into an intense, dramatic pop-rock song. Still, “brutal” manages to provide a thought-provoking perspective on adolescence. As the song might suggest, Rodrigo is brutally honest about teenage life, as she sings “I’m so sick of seventeen, where’s my f*cking teenage dream” and “if someone tells me one more time ‘enjoy your youth’, I’m gonna cry.”

 

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Other standouts include the songs “traitor,” a deeply emotional ballad about betrayal, and “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” which samples parts of Taylor Swift’s “New Years Day” and details the back and forth between Rodrigo and her significant other.

Rodrigo’s songs seem to take listeners on a journey through the different stages of a breakup: sadness, denial, and anger. On the standout track “good 4 u,” the young singer isn’t afraid to let her anger and bitterness show. Like many of her other songs, the track begins with a more relaxed, bass-heavy background. Eventually, the song shifts into more of a rock tune that is heavily reminiscent of Avril Lavigne’s pop-rock discography.

 

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Rodrigo does some venting, back-talking, and even a little screaming on this extremely provocative track. Overall, the song is about Rodrigo’s anger towards her ex-boyfriend, who was able to move on from their relationship so quickly. The track is the perfect break-up anthem, complete with a perfect bridge and relatable lyrics.

But SOUR isn’t just a compilation of breakup songs. Throughout the album, Rodrigo is hauntingly honest about her insecurities, fears, and desires. Track 9, “jealousy jealousy,” best encapsulates these feelings.

The mellow beat contrasts with the somewhat angry, bitter lyrics. Throughout the song, Rodrigo compares herself to “perfect” girls, with “paper white teeth” and “perfect bodies.” However, she is quick to mention that other girls’ beauty is “not [her] lack”, making it clear that the song is not in any way intended to shame other women. The young singer describes her compulsive need to compare herself to others, singing “co-comparison is killing me softly.” The track is also incredibly vulnerable, as Rodrigo reveals a deep-rooted sense of self-hatred.

This is what makes her album so incredibly relatable — she isn’t afraid to express her emotions, no matter how ugly they may be. Most teenagers can relate to Rodrigo’s constant need to compare herself, or her sense of self-hatred. It is rare to see such an accurate musical portrayal of adolescence, but Rodrigo is able to bring listeners along on a journey through her head.


Video courtesy of Olivia Rodrigo

The album ends with “hope ur ok,” a real tear-jerker. In this beautiful ballad, Rodrigo reflects on her past relationships, both platonic and romantic. She wishes everyone from her past well, and chronicles her journey of moving on. The song feels very mature and thoughtful, and is definitely one of my favorites on the album.

I have never been particularly drawn towards ballad-heavy albums, but SOUR is a rare exception. Though I definitely prefer the pop-rock songs over the more emotional ones, I can still enjoy the entire album without skipping any tracks.

At times, some of the slower, vulnerable songs fall a little flat sonically, which is why I think Rodrigo would do well to stick to the 2000s punk sound she has begun to explore. Overall, however, this album was incredible, and I am excited to see what Rodrigo does in the future.