‘Sour’ leaves sweet first impression

Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album perfectly represents teenage angst through heartfelt lyrics, catchy tunes


Morgan Vehige

‘Sour’ kicks off with “Brutal”, an upbeat song that gives the album life from the very first second. The album was released on May 21, and has since ranked at the top of U.S charts.

Morgan Vehige

Olivia Rodrigo understood the assignment. Make the album, sing from the heart and sound good doing it. She accomplished all three without hesitation and is beginning to make herself a household name.

After releasing her debut single, driver’s license, on January 8, she already had an army of young men and women blowing their speakers out and feeling too many emotions. The song hit number one on the Billboard charts after its release and her career has only taken off from there.

Rodrigo is now one of the biggest breakout stars of the century in the entertainment industry. She’s the only artist to have ever had her first three singles debut in Billboard’s top 10, and one of the first to have them all appear on her debut album.

In her album, Sour, Rodrigo proves that her records are rightfully earned. Critics of Rodrigo say that she’s just another passing fad, a wannabe Taylor Swift of sorts. However, she is unapologetically herself in every song that she writes, which speaks volumes for her target audience, teenagers, who live in a world of make-believe social media.

‘Sour’ leaves anything but a sour impression. The album is more on the depressing side, but each and every song is enjoyable in some way or another, even though they are targeted for specific forms of adolescent heartbreak or anger.

The album kicks off with a banger in the form of brutal. Rodrigo effectively captures the listener’s attention from the get-go with a small orchestra section, which immediately turns into a pop-rock song, reminiscent of the early 2010s. The song details the struggles of being a teenager in a modern world and perfectly captures teenage angst through a strong electric guitar and bitter lyrics. Overall, it leaves a fantastic impression and is one of the best tracks on the album.

Listeners everywhere though were forced to put up with the emotional whiplash as the song traitor begins to play. Telling the story of a couple recently split, presumably due to another girl in the picture, Rodrigo’s haunting vocals carry the heart of the song, which beats with agony and feelings of betrayal. Earnesty rings true within each line along with lovely instrumentals, which further cement the overwhelming emotions caused by the words.

Driver’s license further intensifies the depth of emotion Rodrigo portrays within her song. While the song is overplayed and overdramatized, amongst the other songs of the album it still holds a place quite nicely. The nostalgia and longing in the song are real, but the song doesn’t sound as good as the rest of the album.

1 step forward, 3 steps back is another song on the album that doesn’t really stand out much. It’s a good song and the sample from Taylor Swift’s New Year’s Day is incredibly moving, but there’s nothing special about it as compared to the rest of the album.

Track number five is deja vu, the second of Rodrigo’s singles to be released before the album. The song is incredibly upbeat with catchy lyrics and comes packed with Gen Z branded honest brutality and quips. Drums drive the song and create a strong attitude that’s backed by intense lyrics “Do you get deja vu when she’s with you?” and “Everything is all reused”. It’s definitely a shout-along song and definitely earns its place within the album.

Good 4 u is another shout-along song, but this one ranks far above deja vu. As her third single, this song debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and for good reason. This song details a breakup, and the anger expressed to someone who “maybe never cared at all” about the relationship. This song is akin to hits like Misery Business by Paramore, and the strong guitar and bitter lyrics allow listeners to feel the sort of righteous anger Rodrigo expresses.

Like 1 step forward, 3 steps back, enough for you is a great, more sad song that doesn’t really stand out among the other tracks. Rodrigo’s soft vocals echo self-consciousness around a partner and are accompanied by a sweet guitar. However, the lyrics in this song are definitely elevated. Lyrics like “I don’t want your sympathy, I just want myself back” tell a great story that ends with a brighter note in “someday I’ll be everything to somebody else”. It’s a relatable song and that brings it out from the weeds.

On the other hand, happier breaks free from what holds back in 1 step forward, 3 steps back and enough for you. It’s more intense, more dramatic and overall a more interesting song to listen to. Rodrigo’s vocals definitely sell the song too, powerful at moments and heartbreaking at others. It leaves a haunting impression with the varied instrumentation but it’s beautiful to listen to.

Jealousy, jealousy breaks up the sad song streak wonderfully. Rodrigo once again artfully articulates difficulties faced by teenagers and their desires to be anyone other than themselves. It’s upbeat, and the bridge is a bit reminiscent of the 90s. It definitely isn’t the most lyrically genius song on the album, but it still chips away at the heart fairly enough.

The second to last song, favorite crime is one of the more criminally underrated on the album. Not only is the melody one of the most beautiful songs on the album, but Rodrigo’s voice also is at its peak of incredibleness and is accompanied by amazing storytelling lyrics. The cherry on top of the song, though, is Rodrigo’s harmonies right after the fast-paced bridge. This song is one of the best on the album and needs to be recognized as such.

Unfortunately, hope ur okay didn’t strike as much of a chord as was intended. There are plenty of well-written lyrics, but they fall short because of the oddly upbeat yet still sad strings backing the song. The song is still good, but it really doesn’t earn its place as an album closer.

Overall, the album is incredible. It may not be the most original, but it definitely is one of the more earnest albums of the year. The instrumentals are basic but catchy, and Rodrigo’s voice and stories leave a lasting impression beyond the last song.

Final rating: 8 out of 10.