Diagnosis: Alive & Well❤️
Fav Tracks: brutal, deja vu, good 4 u, enough for you, jealousy, jealousy, favorite crime
Least Fav: drivers license
Olivia Rodrigo released her debut single “drivers license” back in January and it spread like wild fire. There really wasn’t a space on the internet you could go without this song popping up. Now a few months removed, we get her debut album Sour, which I expect to also do huge numbers. And for good reason. This album is a teen breakup record at its core with 80-90% of the tracks feature Olivia discussing her past relationship. While this may come across as juvenile to some I would completely disagree. Olivia, being only 18 years old, has a sense of awareness and maturity that many teenagers don’t have and this is shown over the 11 tracks and 35 minute runtime. While she is clearly ‘sour’ about how things ended she has the ability to be introspective and relay her feelings perfectly into her lyrics while also keeping things youthful.
The intro track “brutal” is a fun pop alt rock track that is quite engaging to start off. Olivia runs through her thoughts that just create annoyance and stress in her life. She bounces from small issues such as pondering over who likes her to larger issues such as her career.
And I’m so tired that I might
Quit my job, start a new life
And they’d all be so disappointed
‘Cause who am I if not exploited?
This song just encompasses the stressed out teenage life and all the flooding of questions that come with it.
The second track “traitor” suites the mood for how most of the album plays out. This song is a solid introduction for the slower, sad, and emotional side that Sour offers up. We can already hear some of the music Olivia is influenced by such as Lorde specifically on this one. It can be hard to categorize a person after a breakup and Olivia does it great with the word traitor and using it to describe how a person may not have technically overstepped their boundaries in the relationship but still pushed their limits causing the feeling of betrayal.
We then get the hit single “drivers license” and in all honesty I find it to be one of the more tame or boring tracks on this album. Its not bad but, looking at everything as a whole, the instrumentation is extremely plain. Luckily, Olivia’s vocals and story telling do enough to keep me listening and this song does create nostalgia in different ways. I’m not saying this is a bad song I’m saying there are way better tracks on Sour then just “drivers license”.
“1 step forward, 3 steps back” is pretty much a simple piano ballad where we see Olivia take on the topic of power dynamics in a relationship and the confusion that creates.
Following that up is the next single “deja vu”. While this song starts out slower with some glistening production it then gets a little more upbeat and even has this slight vertigo like feel caused by this unique rewinding synth sound. It all encompasses the overall theme. The writing on this track is just so solid as well. Here Olivia talks about how we take things from past relationships and try to play them off as a new experience with someone else when as Olivia puts it -its all reused-.
I’m pretty sure everyone has pointed this out already and yes the song “good 4 u” sounds very similar to Paramore’s “Misery Business”. I think Olivia taking that sound and reintroducing it to her generation is cool. It’s another fun track and Olivia does enough throughout to make it her own.
My favorite song on Sour is the sixth track “enough for you”. After listening to this you just want to give Olivia a hug. It’s so damn sad and her passion and emotion really shows. It’s heart breaking as we listen to Olivia trying to come to terms with being discarded from her relationship after putting forth so much effort. This song is a eye opening moment to having love not be reciprocated and the torturous hurt that can bring.
The break up train continues with “happier” another heavy piano ballad track. There is an oddly satisfying bass scale drop that happens between the chorus and the second verse. “Happier” also closes out with some nice string instrumentals being incorporated that just add to it’s beauty. It’s a cute track where you wish the best for someone after a breakup but at the same time don’t want them to be doing better without you.
The stacked harmonies on “jealousy, jealousy” immediately reminded me of Billie Eilish. The production on this track is some of the best on the entire record because we get this nice bass guitar to open up while this very free and lively piano instrumental also plays (especially on the bridge). Then these deep deep horn synths kind of drone in at certain moments that create a solid fun collection of instrumentals. Moving on from the production standpoint, we hear Olivia envying certain looks or materials others posses while she also tries to reassure herself that being envious may not be all that healthy.
Coming down to the last two songs, the album continues to hold strong. “Favorite Crime” is another one I enjoyed. The harmonies on the hook give this beautiful airiness of acceptance in this cruel song. Another track that shows Olivia’s maturity with her understanding how she was treated in the relationship. She uses this moment to compare the relationship to a crime against one another. Olivia is admitting to being naive and so love lost that certain things she allowed to happen only did more damage in the end. There’s just a sweet bitterness to the track and pretty much a final goodbye.
The closing track “hope ur ok” does wrap up with her influences of Taylor Swift and Lorde being pretty obvious. We hear Olivia reminiscing and retelling the story about childhood friends she saw struggling and trying to offer up some comfort. I can see younger people finding solace in this track and it should also help older generations to come to terms with some of their mistakes as well. This songs feels like a perfect wrap up for one of the generations next stars.
Sour offers up everything you want and more from it. In comparison, if you want to watch a teenage drama film and the acting is good, and the script is good, and the plot is good, you can’t hate it for being a teenage drama film because that’s exactly what you wanted. This is how I think people will treat Olivia’s debut album unfortunately because they’ll play it off as juvenile. I would like to reiterate that that is not the case. Sour, while at times being youthful and fun, also has this close personal quality to it. Olivia Rodrigo’s lyrics are insightful and aware of how human relationships and feelings work. In the end, Olivia, has the ability to take us into her relationship in a very personal way with descriptive and poignant lyrics forcing the listener examine some of their own feelings. While, yes, clearly Lorde, Billie Eilish, and Taylor Swift are huge influences I think what keeps this record fresh is Olivia’s own personal story while adding in some rock tracks to keep things fun. This is a great debut record.