Album Review: Sour by Olivia Rodrigo
Sour by Olivia Rodrigo | Geffen Records
You may have heard of her song “drivers license” circulating all over TikTok where she hooked people with her inventive melodramatic power ballad so much that her song stayed eight weeks in the top of Billboard’s Hot 100. But the High School Musical: The Musical The Series breakout star is finally ready to bare it all with the complete ensemble of her heartbreak journey through her debut album called Sour.
You can’t just dip your toes when you listen to this album’s first record. From the opening heavy riffs and Rodrigo’s radical lyrics, “brutal” is a Paramore-esque punk pop song that invites your ears to the rollercoaster of emotions that is about to come.
On the next three songs, Rodrigo wears her heart on her sleeve. Being self-aware and crudely honest worked well with these power ballads, including, of course, her hit single “drivers license”. But a surprise ballad hit that’s getting attention from Taylor Swift fans because of the artist’s involvement is “1 step forward, 3 steps back”, a toxic relationship beautifully laid out through a powerful piano accompaniment.
The album pretty much follows the good mix of emboldened grunge and emotional ballads. With the relatable passive-aggressiveness of “good 4 u” to the emotional wishful thinking of “happier”, this album touches both ends of the overwhelming-emotions spectrum.
If there’s one song that can encapsulate the personality of this album, it’s her second single “deja vu”. The mix of grunge and slow ballad with both the frustration and melancholy of teenage heartbreak is perfect for the song’s context. It’s reminiscent of Swift’s poignant lyrics and Lorde’s eccentric aura. An increasingly intense energy is created by starting the song with pleasing synth and adding somewhat distorted drums and occasional heavy guitar riffs later. It not only brings a nostalgic air to the song but it lets the song have a wonderful engaging finish.
If there’s one negative comment that can be said about this album, it’s that some of the songs finish too soon to truly gain momentum. Records like “1 step forward, 3 steps back”, “favorite crime” and “jealousy, jealousy” all have the potential to just suck you into their world. But when it finishes before the three-minute mark, it leaves you famished.
Sour is all about the teenage heartbreak journey. But what makes it so compelling is the variety of her records and their intentional placement in the album which tells us that this journey is not simply from point A to point B. It’s an ever-changing path of going back and forth with different emotions. You may feel healed one day and one thing can just make you go spiral. Recovery from a break-up is never easy. But if you’re going on that journey, Sour might just be the perfect album soundtrack while you scream and cry.