Paige France, Contributor
“God, it’s brutal out here.” Sour, the debut studio album of 18-year-old American actress Olivia Rodrigo, documents her feelings when her relationship went, well, sour.
Stifling teenage angst in every narrow cadence, Sour is a battle cry of hate, acceptance, and teenage uncertainty. As Rodrigo braves the world of heartbreak, we peek into her synth-pop, grunge-emo life that drips with arrogant, yet naïve retorts. Pulling inspiration from Taylor Swift and Lorde, Rodrigo puts a youthful spin on heartbreak, which audiences have not heard since the former’s Fearless.
The majorly chaotic and messy collection of verbal mischief wavers between both sweet pop and tart punk, surprisingly without losing touch of the other; her clandestine emotions howl to the masses. Unequivocally plotting her path toward musical stardom, Rodrigo chiseled her ex’s heart in song and simultaneously found the agony of collapse, a phenomenon that is as awful as it is familiar to many.
Mirroring most heartbreak albums, Sour is about endings. Like déjà vu itself, Rodrigo reacquaints you with your former distressed post-breakup self. Her freshman album is the resounding silence of slamming doors. However, moving on like a damn sociopath, Sour assures it is just the beginning of her song-writing venture.
Inside (The Songs)—Bo Burnham
Dalainey Gervais, Associate Features Editor
Bo Burnham’s stand-up and artistic career has a reputation of disrupting the scene, which is exactly what he did with the release of his Netflix comedy special and album, Inside. Released on Netflix in late May, and as an album on streaming services in June, Inside creates a space for societal dialogue through catchy beats and relatable humour.
Written and recorded entirely in his home, Burnham’s songs depict his struggles with mental illness, his relationship with his mother, and provide commentary on the capitalistic world we find ourselves in. The album leaves listeners contemplating their relationships with themselves, their families, and the world around them, while also guaranteeing to leave a song stuck in their heads.
As a fan of musicals and comedy, I love albums that tell a story from start to finish, and Inside does just that. The final song on the special, “Goodbye,” is by far my favourite and includes samples of other songs on the album to create the ultimate framing effect. “Goodbye” reminds listeners of the balance created by the joys and stresses of life and allows for reflection of our time in isolation.
Delaney Rombough, Contributor
In Ben Platt’s second studio album, Reverie, he has gone from Broadway baby to certified pop star. On The Today Show, Platt revealed that he wrote many of the album’s songs in his childhood bedroom when he returned home during the pandemic. He even wrote a song, called “childhood bedroom,” about the nostalgia and familiarity of being back in a place after so much has changed. The album also features a couple of romantic songs, including lead singles “imagine” and “happy to be sad,” which were inspired by Platt’s partner, Noah Galvin.
Reverie is a great mix of upbeat pop songs that you can dance to and reflective ballads. Like his first album, Sing to Me Instead, Platt tells powerful narratives through music. As an actor, Platt frequently pretends to be other people and tells their stories. But in his music, Platt takes the opportunity to share his own perspectives on love, life, growing up, finding yourself, and everything in between.
The Shave Experiment (Director’s Cut)—Q
Nadya Suadi, Contributor
The South Florida native, Q, is back with the redefined director’s cut of The Shave Experiment, originally released in 2020. With an addition of six songs, the 36-minute wonder is groovy, funky, yet tender at its core. The lush blend of falsettos, funky guitar riffs, and distorted kick drums make the album a melting pot of R&B, funk, and pop.
The 21-year-old artist brings us on an intimate soul-searching journey, exploring topics of vulnerability, passion, and desire. It is one of those albums that you would never skip, but “Garage Rooftop” and “Take Me Where Your Heart Is” have earned a special place in my heart. Mellow and affectionate, the two songs beautifully encapsulate the feeling of the fragility of being in love—as if having a crush was made into a song.
Following his recent release, Q uploaded a dreamy ’70s-esque short film on YouTube that shows how the album came together and visualizes the album concept.
If you’re feeling sentimental, this riveting masterpiece is the perfect album to wind down to as we enjoy the fleeting summer days.
Hello Future—NCT Dream
Sidra Durrani, Contributor
It is hard to stand out in 23-member K-Pop group NCT, but the subunit composed of their seven youngest members, NCT Dream, does it with ease. Five years after the group’s debut in 2016—a long time to wait even by K-Pop standards—the group’s first full-length album, Hello Future, is an ambitious and triumphant piece of work.
The album’s title track is a big, bombastic pop song with infectious English lyrics throughout; the soaring vocals and catchy rap verses help turn this song into a feel-good anthem. The album includes a variety of hits, like “Diggity,” “Rocket,” and “Irreplaceable,” which are catchier and more energetic with their powerful beats or unique retro feel; other standouts, like “Life is Still Going On” or “My Youth,” are soft or ethereal songs that let the members’ vocals shine. The album ends with “Rainbow,” a song bursting with hope and happiness that serves as the perfect goodbye, ending this chapter for the band while keeping the door wide open for the next.