Olivia Rodrigo
SOUR


4.0
excellent

Review

by ian b CONTRIBUTOR (10 Reviews)
June 21st, 2021 | 181 replies


Release Date: 05/21/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "where's my fucking teenage dream?"

As a nineteen year old “seasoned” music journalist/writer at this point in my life, the one thing I’ve never quite properly prepared for is people younger than me to soar up into the mainstream faster than the speed of light, like Olivia Rodrigo has and other stars like Miley Cyrus, Fiona Apple, Billie Eilish, etc. all before her did, so I don't know why this album has been so much of a shock to me, but Olivia Rodrigo has been making the most of her fame by using it to express creativity that no “social media influencer” has really set a precedent of before. With SOUR, Olivia Rodrigo makes more than enough of a case for herself that she’s not just another 17 year old who got famous on Disney’s “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” and yes, I wish that was a joke, but Rodrigo also exploded on TikTok because the algorithm was being generous, giving her a much wider audience to express herself to. But don’t let the numbers get it twisted, Olivia Rodrigo is likely one of the first of many to use these platforms to propel themselves into genuinely heartfelt creative levels that aren’t necessarily expected of a social media influencer, but rather, a true artist. So the question has already been answered that yes, a 17 year old Disney star can make better music than all of us combined, and has already made massive strides in songwriting on her first full length than most musicians have made in the past 10 years, but what's important to really as is will the record be a product of its era, or is SOUR quality enough to withstand the test of time?

Well, while there’s a lot of debate on where her influences come from, what irks me most is hearing “she’s just a _______ clone!!” because one of her songs might resemble influence from contemporaries like Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers, yet another might resemble one of that from the “Riot Grrrl” movement, only more refined, and cleanly executed. The absolute dynamics Olivia Rodrigo brings to the table just within the first half of SOUR is demonstrative enough to disprove any dismissive and disillusion any listener might have because of her background. Of course the cynic in me would be initially indifferent towards a new Disney star’s solo debut in 2021, but Olivia Rodrigo makes a case for herself as a genuinely talented musician with creative-enough songwriting, paired with some genuinely compelling production and Rodrigo’s soon-to-be signature breathy yet passionate vocals. The lyrics aren’t necessarily anything to remark as a poetic masterwork, yet it’s definitely one step forward (no pun intended) than 95% of mainstream pop lyrics, especially from someone as young as Olivia Rodrigo.

Blowing any and almost every expectation out of the water, Olivia Rodrigo subverted the expectations set by her singles by truly taking an individualist approach to her debut, even if a good chunk of her sound at the moment could be considered indebted to contemporaries like Phoebe Bridgers or Hayley Williams, Rodrigo still finds a way to set herself apart from the pack on her impeccably produced debut SOUR at just the age of 17, than most of us would be able to craft with 30 of us and a year’s time. All cynicism one might have towards giving open praise to this album, do not be worried. If you’re into this album, then hell yeah, there’s many reasons to. If you don’t enjoy this or singer-songwriter/pop-rock type music at all in any capacity, I don’t really know what to tell you reader; perhaps read a book or maybe touch some grass; if possible maybe even both? Anyways I’m lost and trying to find my place in this piece, which (not really) funnily enough, is SOUR’s biggest flaw, as it jumps between sounds so frequently and often inconsistently, making the overall experience kind of a roller-coaster of a listen if played in normal sequence. Regardless of nitpicks and tracklisting, everything from the composition of each individual piece on SOUR serves its place, even if it could’ve been sequenced a bit better. Each song portrays its own side of Rodrigo’s personality and that comes off both lyrically and vocally intricately layered enough to warrant repeated listens, and with her debut Olivia Rodrigo rightfully has cemented herself at the top of the mainstream while still being one of the most artistically expressive musicians to come out in the past few years. SOUR might not be entirely perfect on a surface level analysis, but with the passage of time and the gift of hindsight/retrospect, I feel like Olivia Rodrigo’s debut will be much more appreciated than it has upon release, being ignorantly dismissed/written-off as a full-length album, while it still stands as one of the strongest pop singer-songwriter debuts of the past 10 years.



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user ratings (151)
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
ian b
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2021


2031 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

srry this review is like a hodgepodge of like 5 different drafts, 3 of which i didn't revise because spontaneity, anyways dont tear me apart pls im fragile

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DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2021


10704 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol, I should have mentioned that I already had two paragraphs of my review for this finished. It's all good though, yours is probably better. I'll give it a read soon :]

ian b
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2021


2031 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

hey fella i told yall i was gonna review this like the week it came out and even sent Kompys an early draft, i just kept rewriting and revising it like a nutjob until a drunkenly threw this all together and tried putting a bow on top of it lmfao so dont get me wrong, feel free to post your review i'm sure it's far more articulated and analytical than this shitpost i have lol

brainmelter
June 21st 2021


7528 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

about time this got a write up

ian b
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2021


2031 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yeah agreed, i thought some user (even a newcomer) would give it some sort of thread to discuss it but alas i had to spew out whatever this qualifies as to start a thread lmfao

SteakByrnes
June 21st 2021


24226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Rad, this album rules

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dedex
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2021


8266 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

my dude dudeing ahrd m/

Snake.
June 21st 2021


23217 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

very relatable content on this album too bad if it was me saying all this it would fall on deaf ears because i'm not a nickelodeon star

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2021


38842 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

Thanks for reminding me to peep this. It's not good and not awful, but I don't get the need to pay lip service to a teenage superstar whose stakes her main songwriting intrigue on being having been dumped for not being interesting enough; lotta pathos goin down there for sure, but irony always wins. Also too much open lifting from disappointing artists' styles. Maybe she will make something good one day, I feel she has a songwriter's voice to find.

Nice review though, if perhaps a little overly defensive

AlexKzillion
June 21st 2021


12507 Comments


I like most of these songs in isolation, but put together as an album the heavy handed "you dumped me" shtick gets really wearing

bigweinerdon
June 21st 2021


1506 Comments


girlfriend jams this bullshit all the time

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fogza
June 21st 2021


2265 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"the heavy handed "you dumped me" shtick gets really wearing"



[2] The "I'm such an outsider who doesn't fit in and has no confidence introvert" thing also doesn't really work either.





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Pangea
June 21st 2021


6757 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Excellent review Ian! I think she has potential and i do feel it's a lot more honest as many other debut albums from teen superstars, but this doesn't quite work for me still. Mostly agreed with Johnny that she still needs to vind her songwriter's voice.

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Snake.
June 21st 2021


23217 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

men really be out here telling teenage girls to get over being dumped as if they’d take it any better than this

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2021


38842 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

Men got Jane Doe amirite

but there are no excuses for ripping off the most mediocre parts of Phoebe Bridgers last album, and no amount of dumpage is gonna change that

Snake.
June 21st 2021


23217 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

well considering a significant portion of pheebs’ fanbase inadvertently fetishizes depression and mental illness (second only to brand new before 2017) are you in the least bit shocked?

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2021


38842 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

That is not a stone I particularly wanna poke around under, but no lol I am not

fogza
June 21st 2021


2265 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"men really be out here telling teenage girls to get over being dumped as if they’d take it any better than this"



There's plenty of teenage dudes getting dumped albums that I can't get behind either. I am a little tired of people playing up to valuing relationships too highly.

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2021


14388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review ian, the bangers on this album are especially fun but the ballads are underwhelming

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GhandhiLion
June 21st 2021


12838 Comments


Phoebe Bridgers is a relevant, significant and influential artist?

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