Surrender is a sophomore success that finds Rogers settling into herself as a person and as an artist.
Maggie Rogers, fresh off a new master’s degree and a buzzy debut album heard by nearly everyone under the sun, returns with a new perspective and new sound on Surrender, her second full-length record. Gone are the sparse, breathy vocal tracks of her first album, replaced here by a bigger powerhouse voice and full-band instrumentation. The result is a bold re-entry to the musical world, and a sophomore sound set to impress.
It’s hard to take NYU students who go viral on the Internet seriously, even when they get a full-throated endorsement from Pharrell. It’s easy to write them off as simpering, even disingenuous, when their music starts to take off. But the Rogers narrative seems to easily sidestep any accusations of coming from money or legacy nepotism or having the keys to success handed to her, a quality likewise reflected in her music: she lands with a fiery confidence on this record, the sounds of someone who has been waiting for this moment their whole life and has no time for slumps. She trades in familiar themes — past lovers, new experiences, the feeling of simply letting go — but does so expertly, and she laces her new sound with a heavy dance music influence, a strong drum beat throughline pounding across nearly every track.
Which is to say, Rogers has grown both sonically and emotionally since her last record, confidently tackling ideas of self-worth and the pain of the world destructing around her. She processes her quick rise to fame and the power that she’s accrued thanks to it, pondering if she can use it for something that has greater meaning. But despite dealing with heavier and more somber ideas on this record, there’s still a great joy present in Rogers’ expression of such feelings. She’s content living in this absence of answers, and Surrender, fittingly, has the feels of her settling into herself as a person and as an artist. It’s dismissive to say that someone whose career started with a viral Pharrell video, a Mumford and Sons opening slot, a friendship/mentorship with Brandi Carlile and Sharon Van Etten, and multiple mid-day festival appearances has “found their footing” in the half-decade since its takeoff. But Rogers truly digs deep on this latest record, and reinvents her sound in a massive, wonderful way. The evolution isn’t just profound, but totally redefines Rogers’ ceiling as an artist.
Published as part of Album Roundup — July 2022 | Part 3.