SOUR By Olivia Rodrigo: A Track-By-Track Review

It is very common for the music industry to take in young, fresh new talent, but it is extremely rare for an artist to take the whole world by storm with just their debut album.

That is exactly what Olivia Rodrigo has accomplished with SOUR, released exactly 5 months after her viral hit single “drivers licence”, followed by commercial smashes “deja vu” and “good 4 u”.

The album itself has taken streaming services by storm, breaking multiple records and still receiving millions of streams to this day. However, SOUR is not just a commercial blockbuster, it never could have achieved that without Olivia letting the music speak for itself, and she definitely came through. The 11 track album explores pop-rock and punk genres, and plays upon the nostalgia of 2000s teen pop. An added bonus to the album’s credit, it has interpolations of songs by Taylor Swift and Paramore and draws inspiration from their music, as well as Alanis Morissette and Kacey Musgraves. 

The album opens with “brutal”, a rock/punk song chronicling the anxieties and struggles that come with being a teenager in a modern world that puts so much pressure and weight on being exceptional and perfect at all times. I really love the beat drop and the instrumentation and the message of the song overall (it hits way too close to home, sadly). I give brutal an 8 out of 10. 

Track 2 is “traitor”, a ballad reflecting on the heartbreak that comes when your partner moves on far too quickly - and with someone who they promised wasn’t anything to worry about. (This storyline would later be explored in three more of the future tracks) “Guess you didn’t cheat, but you’re still a traitor” hits so deeply and gives us all a reminder that all betrayals come from the people you thought you could trust, and that not all of them are identical and hurt the same way. Her vocals really shine and this song gives the listener a chance to appreciate one of her core strengths - emotional delivery. I give traitor a score of 10 points - this song deserves a perfect score. 

Track 3 is Olivia’s classic signature song, found right at the gate - “drivers license”. I don’t think there’s anything about this song I could possibly say that the internet hasn’t already said. It’s perfect, from the verses to the chorus and that bridge - god, that bridge. It could begin and end wars. I give drivers licence a 10. 

Track 4 is “1 step forward, 3 steps back”, which interpolates a Taylor Swift song, “New Year’s Day”. It is about someone in a relationship who is doing the most to keep it from crumbling, and is always second-guessing and doubting themselves, wondering if they’re the problem to realising that the relationship is a rollercoaster ride that makes them sick, but it’s all they’ve had. The minimal piano adds perfectly to the doubtful nature of the song. Her vocals come through once again. I give it an 8. 

Track 5 is something the world has already heard, but it seems to get better and better upon each listen. “deja vu” has the narrator calling out an ex for being unfaithful and insincere to his current partner, and using their experiences together as evidence for their deceitful nature. Deja vu actually has the best concept of any song in this album, it’s put together so well. The synthpop throws me off a little, and gets some time to get used to, though. I give deja vu a 9. 

You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard track 6. “Good 4 u” takes everything that 2000s punk rock had, and just makes it better. The chorus is so catchy, it stays in my head all day. It follows the storyline from traitor, but this time it takes the same apathetic ex who couldn’t care less that you two aren’t together anymore and drags them to hell and leaves them there. The one thing that hasn’t aged quite well for me is the use of “sociopath” in the bridge, which is kind of insensitive, for sociopathy is an actual disorder that people suffer from. Could’ve put a little more thought into that Olivia. I give good 4 u a 7 out of 10. 

Track 7 is “enough for you”, a bittersweet and heart-wrenching song about literally drowning in so much love for someone you compromise your identity and sense of self for them, only to have it unreciprocated. I feel like Olivia really truly shines when it comes to slower songs and ballads, that’s where her vocal range has more...well, range. I give enough for you 8 out of 10.

Track 8 is quite possibly my favorite song of this album altogether. “happier” is a brutally honest (pun intended) song about still being so heartbroken over someone you loved that you wish they never are as happy with anyone as much as they were with you. I greatly appreciate how much she tries to be kind to the new girl who has replaced her, as well as wishing the ex good luck. Good on you, Olivia. Good on you. I give happier a 9 out of 10. 

Track 9 is “jealousy, jealousy”, a sizzling alt-rock song which keeps it devastatingly real - we all can’t have the best in life, and that hurts like a wound in salt. She’s happy for them, but then again she’s not. This gives me hope for Olivia’s future as a musician - if all her up-tempo songs take this lowkey rock sound, she can do really well for herself. I give it an 8 out of 10. 

Track 10 is “favorite crime” which showcases Olivia’s songwriting beautifully. It takes on crime metaphors and fleeing from the scene of the act after killing a relationship and the person it was shared with. It looks back on noticing all the red flags one missed, and realising them only in hindsight. All the things she did, just so she could call him hers. I give it 9 out of 10. 

The last track of SOUR is “hope ur ok”, which is the sweetest and most compassionate thing that every person down on their luck and carrying the weight of the world could hear. It’s dedicated to the members of the LGBTQ community and children struggling with familial relationships. To be perfectly honest, I love the bridge of “hope ur ok” more than “drivers license”. I give it a 9 out 10. 

With an average score of 8.6, SOUR is an undoubted triumph, especially for a debut album. Its appeal is universal, and Olivia Rodrigo’s spirit is genuine and sincere, and it is definitely reflected in her music.

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