Three and a half years after a viral video of Pharrell reacting to her music made her one of pop’s most promising new figures overnight, Maggie Rogers is back with a new sound, a new haircut and a degree from Harvard. Sharing its name with her thesis in religion and public life, Surrender finds Rogers trying out a new pop-rock edge and trading in her folksy yet crisp electropop sound for fuzzy distortion. The title of the project ties directly to the lyrical themes, as Rogers muses on dealing with struggles both personal and global – lead single “That’s Where I Am” was written in the aftermath of the chaos of the 2020 US election – through dramatic catharsis, throwing inhibitions out the window, following her animalistic instincts and taking what she needs with an energy that she’s described as “feral.”
After the stress of her debut tour, Rogers retreated to the coast of Maine to reconnect through nature for a couple years. With this new approach, the energy of Rogers’ songs is now an even better match for what has always been the crown jewel of her work: her boundless singing voice, now pushed further than we’ve heard before with some incredible high belts and spastic, syllable-heavy attacks on the mic that make it sound like her demons are literally being exorcised. With some tales along the way about running off into the woods with her partner, adorable tributes to her genuine friendships that have stuck with her along the way, and destroying kitchenware just to observe the shattered aftermath, the combination of Rogers’ always surprisingly soulful vocals and musically latching onto the rising wave of all things alt-rock make for a genre-bending, frenetic, and exhilarating musical experience.
Best Track: “Horses”