Pop princess Olivia Rodrigo released her debut album SOUR Friday, bringing teenage angst back in full force.
SOUR feels like you’re reading a 17-year-old’s diary for 34 minutes straight. Anger, grief, insecurity, confusion—it’s all there. The tracklist gives a bit of whiplash, much like intense mood swings. But Rodrigo is working through a broken heart on top of growing up in a confusing time, processing life through her music. Rodrigo pours her entire heart into the album, making sure everyone who listens knows exactly what she’s felt for months. And she isn’t going to hold back.
Anyone who has been keeping up with Rodrigo since she dropped her chart-topping hit “driver’s license” back in January knows she doesn’t shy away from vulnerability. The album draws listeners deeper into Rodrigo’s inner thoughts and feelings, capturing a young woman who’s not only grappling with her feelings but trying to figure out why she’s feeling this way.
SOUR begins with “brutal,” a song that could have been played by Lindsay Lohan’s band in Freaky Friday, listing all her insecurities in true teen angst fashion: “I feel like no one wants me / And I hate the way I’m perceived / I only have two real friends / And lately I’m a nervous wreck.” Her lyrics offer an insight into the inner workings of a teenage girl today, and the track sets the tone for the album: brutal honesty—about herself and the boy who broke her heart.
Her lyrics are extremely pointed as she is able to articulate her feelings in a way that anyone can relate to, even if they haven’t gone through heartbreak themselves. From betrayal (“traitor”) to pure rage (“good 4 u”) to the beginning of acceptance (“happier”), Rodrigo takes listeners with her on her journey. She isn’t afraid to hold back, either. She sings about her ex’s apathy (“Don’t you think I loved you too much to be used and discarded?”), his betrayal (And I know that you’ll never feel sorry / For the way I hurt”), his new girlfriend (“I hope you’re happy / But not like how you were with me”). She isn’t one to hold back her feelings.
And that extends to herself, too. Some of the most heartbreaking lyrics are about the way she feels insecure about who she is. In “enough for you” Rodrigo wishes she could have been what her ex wanted: smarter, more caring, more interesting. More, more, more. When she reaches the bridge, you can hear the pain in her voice as she admits her deepest insecurities out loud (“Don’t you think I loved you too much to be used and discarded? / Don’t you think I loved you too much to think I deserve nothing?”). Rodrigo shows she’s not going to hide away from hurt and pain; she’s willing to bring it front and center.
SOUR ends with “hope ur ok” a song about the love you carry for people even if you haven’t spoken in a long time. It feels as if Rodrigo wrote it for her fans, reminding them (and maybe even herself) that despite the hurt, the distance, the heartbreak, she’s rooting for them. She loves them and wants the best for them. It’s a song about the hope that comes after difficult circumstances, the perfect bookend for this chapter of her life.
While Rodrigo’s album can (and should) be enjoyed by listeners of all ages, it is especially poignant for fans who are her own age. More than a decade ago, a teenaged Taylor Swift began capturing what it was like to be a young millennial in the mid 2000s; years later, Swift’s fans have had the chance to grow up with her, almost as if they had a famous friend who can offer some clarity of life through song. Rodrigo’s young fans now have the same opportunity. She’s starting off her career by welcoming fans into her life with open arms, allowing them the chance to grow up with her.