Surrender review | Maggie Rogers at her most authentic

Maggie Rogers has found her inner rockstar. Three years after her polarising debut ‘Heard It in a Past Life’, the singer who first rose to prominence from a video featuring Pharrell, has settled into an identity after a nascent rise to pop stardom. She’s rid herself of the softness and often sanitised, benign aesthetic of her debut and launched into raucous rock, strutting blues riffs and unapologetic stadium pop hooks.

Maggie Rogers


What’s most notable is that Surrender is a comprehensive Maggie Rogers production. Apart from Harry Styles collaborator The Kid Harpoon assisting on three of the 12 tracks, the album is entirely self-produced. This comes after much criticism of her debut being “overproduced” as it enlisted A-list producers like Greg Kurstin and Rostam Batmanglij to oversee recording sessions and shape songs for the anointed ‘next big thing’.

Surrender bursts into life on opening track ‘Overdrive’, a soulful and atmospheric indie anthem that’s revved up by some thumping drums and it sets the tone for the vibrancy that follows because it’s an album ignited by a full-throated emotional candidness complimented by her own experimentations with her voice as the song features a raw belt high above the music that sees Rogers aim for PJ Harvey or Karen O.

Rogers sounds free as she sings about the 21st Century phenomenon of doom-scrolling and the anxieties that permeate all relationships. This is the real Maggie Rogers: there’s oversharing revelations about masturbating to Robert Pattinson, odes to friendship and rich evocations of loves that once were.

Maggie Rogers Surrender

‘Want Want’ is Rogers’ most blatant stab at stadium pop and the result is something that, if released by Taylor Swift, would probably be number one for half the year. It’s a bop with a readiness of sass that is central to another theme that runs through Surrender: unapologetic sexuality. As well as fantasising about Batman, Rogers is explicit about her desires on ‘Horses’ when she dreams of oral sex and it’s this cheeky, unapologetic sexual desire that reveals a real woman that was hidden beneath her debut album’s overperfected sheen.

The rhythms of ‘That’s Where I Am’ are reminiscent of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and the song really embodies Rogers’ newfound uninhibitedness and Surrender as a whole. It’s an album about letting go and embracing all, whether that be sex, love or silly feelings. She finds herself embracing the messiness of the reality of life, effectively conveyed through a voice pushed away from technical perfection into territory that is emotively far deeper.

It’s easy to hear the influence of many of Rogers’ contemporaries across Surrender and the album is buoyed by the sounds of both female-led contemporary indie pop and the heavier, electric guitar wielding women of the late 90s and early 00s.

Her voice has become more evocative like fellow indie darlings Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. Her songwriting is arch, witty and authentically confessional in the mold of Swift or Kacey Musgraves and sonically she has expanded into rockier territory as if she could be the fourth member of Haim. It’s also impossible to listen to something like ‘Honey’ and not be reminded of Avril Lavigne’s 2003 heyday with its grungy guitars and anguished vocal delivery.

While many hyped artists struggle with the second album (it’s a cliche for a reason), Surrender shows a performer much more comfortable with her voice, her lyrics and her position in music. This is no grasp at making a great album, it’s a very dynamic and personal piece dictated by Rogers’ own body and soul and is great because of it.

Giving into her instincts and embracing pop, Surrender can happily register itself alongside the likes of Bridgers’ ‘Punisher’ and Baker’s ‘Little Oblivions’ as recent raw, alternative great albums made by women expanding their sound.

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