Sour (Explicit), by Olivia Rodrigo
Since Target refused to send me the album like I ordered and sent another album instead, I decided not to wait on this but rather review it based on the album as it appears on Spotify. In listening to this album I have an advantage of sorts in that I have heard most of the album already by streaming tracks individually, and I happen to enjoy most of what I have heard. Although I am not nor have I ever been someone in the singer’s position, and it has been a long time since I was young, the emotional mood of this album, with its blend between frustration and anger and deep sadness is certainly a mood that resonates with me. This album is teen melodrama in all the best ways, and whether or not it is a good thing that I can totally understand and appreciate this level of emotional maturity, this album is certainly one that appears to have resonated with a wide audience, and I can certainly understand how that takes place.
Sour begins strongly, with plenty of enjoyable songs. Brutal is a song about dissatisfied youth that certainly strikes a nerve. After that comes Traitor, a gorgeous and aching ballad about the complications and betrayals of emotional cheating within relationships, and then the devastating Driver’s License, about the sadness of missing what you would have enjoyed to do with a loved one. 1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back reminds me, painfully, of my own tendency to overanalyze dysfunctional relationships with others. Deja Vu points out the pretense of people rehearsing to do a better job in the next relationship in a painful but relatable way. Good 4 U is a powerful and fierce kiss-off to a former lover that is also painfully and angrily relatable. After this comes a melancholy track about wanting to be enough for one’s partner. Happier talks about the selfish desire to better than an ex’s future partners. Jealousy, Jealousy talks about the hazards of comparing oneself to others, which apparently afflicts a great many people who look far better than I do. Favorite Crime talks about the complicity we feel in the relationships we are in, especially where, as is the case with the singer, it is possible that crime is not merely a metaphor. Hope You’re Okay then closes the album in a reflective storytelling way about children who survived abuse from their parents.
Ultimately, at least in my opinion, this is a strong album from beginning to finish. The obvious singles fill up a bit more than half of the album, which speaks highly for its hit potential, and the album ends with more reflective and thoughtful material. The album as a whole is a blend between melancholy piano ballads and more upbeat and pointed tracks that take from the rock and emo music of the past and repackage it for contemporary youth who might not have been familiar with previous acts like Paramore. Even as a listener who knows the history that this album reflects, this is an appealing album that I can definitely relate to and appreciate. I suspect that is the case for a great many other people as well.