‘Sour’: This summer’s breakup album


After much anticipation from her hit single “Driver’s License,” Rodrigo’s debut album does not disappoint. 

Lydia Wede

“Sour” was released one month ago as Olivia Rodrigo’s debut album and has seen much success. Many of her songs, such as “good 4 you” and “favorite crime” have gone viral on the social media platform TikTok.

This is a short album, with six of her 11 tracks clocking in under three minutes, but this allows her music to exist in a “bingeable” state. It gives listeners the opportunity to listen to her songs several times and discover intricacies missed the first time around. 

As a young songwriter, the expectations are much lower than a veteran who consistently tops the charts. However, Rodrigo did not use that as an excuse. Instead, she pushed herself to create quality music. 

One example of this is the second chorus for “happier.” In the chorus, Rodrigo follows an AB rhyming style until the last line. The lyrics are, “And think of me fondly/ when your hands are on her.” The natural rhyme would be to replace “her” with “me.” However, Rodrigo creates a feeling of dissonance. To think of not only what you’re saying, but what you’re not saying, is incredibly impressive.  

Another example is the way she pays homage to one of her favorite musicians, Taylor Swift. Rodrigo interpolates the piano melody of Swift’s “New Year’s Day” into her own song. Even further, Rodrigo incorporates Swift’s lucky number 13 in the title, “1 step forward, 3 steps back.” It’s a sweet nod to her inspiration without ruining the song for those who aren’t Swift fans.

Her songwriting skill doesn’t stop there. As a Disney actress, it can be easy to exaggerate adult themes to separate themselves from their previous image. Despite this, throughout all of “Sour,” Rodrigo is conscientious of her profane language. Any words used are intentional and further the emotional impact of the story instead of trying to be cool and hip.

The best thing about “Sour” is the vocals. Many of the vocals seem effortless and soft, even if they’re not. There are no intense riffs lasting an obscene amount of time, nor does Rodrigo push past her vocal range and strain her voice. Instead of trying to show off, she sticks to achievable melodies. Listening to her ballads is an enjoyable experience because she doesn’t try to trick the listener and therefore ruin the song. 

One part of the album is both the highlight and a possible flaw: the variety of genres. It is sonically exciting to listen to the punk rock of “brutal” and “good 4 you” contrasting with the pop of “driver’s license” and “deja vu.” However, this also leads “Sour” into feeling unfinished and uncohesive. 

The last critique is her songwriting. This is in contradiction to the previous point regarding how good Rodrigo’s songwriting is, but frankly put, Rodrigo is young and inexperienced. While she can have a beautiful moment in “1 step forward, 3 steps back,” she also creates clunky phrases by inserting the word “boy” in an odd space or by writing the phrase, “I’ve never felt this way for no one,” which is not only grammatically incorrect but also awkward.

In summation, “Sour” is an excellent album, and Rodrigo is an amazing singer-songwriter. “Sour” as a debut album did its job: it made Olivia Rodrigo into a household name and demonstrates her talent. However, it also shows her inexperience and where she has room to grow. All this being said, Rodrigo should be proud of this accomplishment, and I look forward to seeing her future career, which will undoubtedly be great.