Review: Olivia Rodrigo Shines Bright on “SOUR”

Woah. As if “drivers license” wasn’t enough to make us gasp for air as she stunned us with her astonishing voice and sad but romantic and highly relatable lyrics, Olivia Rodrigo has now released her debut album, adding another ten tracks to prove that her breakthrough single was no fluke.

While she may lack the raw intimacy of someone like Fiona Apple, cited as one of her influences, she has a lot more in common with a young, rockier version of Taylor Swift. Describing herself as “the biggest Swift fan in the whole world,” songs such as “traitor,” “deja vu,” “enough for you,” and “hope ur okay” are musically reminiscent of her idol, featuring pristine vocal performances and exactly the kind of naïve but charming lyrics you could only expect from a young artist who’s just been having her first heartbreaks.

While recording the album (most of the album is recorded in a garage, does that make it garage-pop?) Olivia’s goal was to make it as versatile as possible. Though most of the album sticks to slow yet intense acoustic ballads, the more rock-orientated tunes are most memorable.  Opener “brutal” (about false teenage advertising) could have been written by the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde, while “good 4 you” feels like an Alanis Morrisette-tribute that is definitely up there among the best teen-rock songs of all time. Olivia’s biggest asset is her voice, sounding like a brighter, louder version of Phoebe Bridgers, making even the least impressive songs on SOUR highly listenable.

Olivia’s got the voice, the looks, the management to back her up, the song-craft, and most importantly: she’s got the future ahead of herself. She is the most commercially promising Gen Z artist right now, and it will be interesting to follow her career. Only 18 years old, she will now be facing an audience starving after festivals and stadiums, and if SOUR is a first personal step for Olivia to leave her teenage years behind, it might as well be a first step for the rest of the world to forget about the monotony of the last years. We’re ready for you, Olivia. Now, the question is only if Olivia’s ready for us. Say hello to fame, and may it be kind to you.

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