Like the post-gloom bloom, sometimes something sour can clear our palette and make way for something sweet. Sweet on the ears, at least. Such is the case with Olivia Rodrigo's Sour, the nostalgic yet refreshing debut album Rodrigo described to Seventeen as "a slice of [her] seventeen year old heart."
Sour opens with "brutal," which sets the stage with serene orchestral strings before dropping the curtains to reveal a full on rock band. As Rodrigo explains, the entire body of work was recorded either in her bedroom or at her producer Dan Nigro's garage.
The comfort of the recording environment created a safe space for her to be exceptionally open and vulnerable on the mic, and that is evident from the very first vocal utterance of the album, "I'm so insecure, I think." Rodrigo's voice carries the flavors of Paramore punk, Alanis Morissette angst, Kelly Clarkson belt, all topped off with a Taylor Swift candidness. The distorted vocal and talk-singing cadences complete the powerful marriage of pop melodies and angst performance.
Naturally, the rejuvenating record includes the ballad-turned-bop, "driver's license," that has made its way into all of our car speakers, both for those who just got their license and those who have had it for years. But the album reveals different sides of Rodrigo, featuring luscious guitar ballads like "traitor," “enough for you," and "favorite crime," as well as songs like "good 4 u" and "jealousy, jealousy," which are driven by bass licks, gritty vocals, an angry drum kit, blues-infused distortion and tastefully placed dissonance.
Through her debut, Rodrigo also introduces "happier," a modern day classic with a waltz feel, bass stabs, and the chorus line, "I hope you're happy / But don't be happier." The album concludes with the song "hope ur ok," which reads like a love letter to people who weren't born into good circumstances. Rodrigo sings, "Well, I hope you know how proud I am you were created / With the courage to unlearn all of their hatred / But, God, I hope that you’re happier today / 'Cause I love you / And I hope that you’re okay."
"Hope ur ok" is the perfect final song of this contagiously angsty coming-of-age pop soundtrack. Who knew something sour could sound so sweet? As Rodrigo explained on Instagram, every Sour song is "so personal and close to [her] heart…34 minutes and 46 seconds of [her] spilling [her] guts out." And we are here to indulge.
Listen to Sour below: