In a matter of years, indie pop singer Maggie Rogers has risen to an unfathomable, but certainly well deserved, level of fame. In 2016, while attending school at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Rogers was dicovered by music producer Pharrell Williams, who was rendered speechless after hearing her perform her song, “Alaska.” Since that life-changing moment, Rogers has released two albums, Heard It In A Past Life in 2019, and Surrender, released July 29, 2022, under Debay Sounds and Capitol Records.
Surrender, named after the title of her Harvard thesis, is more than just a sophomore album: it’s a look at a rising superstar coming into her own and grasping the world of the adulthood she thought she’d have more time to process. The album starts with “Overdrive,” immediately showcasing her strong pop voice with a heavy drum beat that presents the best of Rogers. Surrender was co-produced with Kid Harpoon (Harry Styles, Shawn Mendes) and his grasp over music paired with Rogers’ stellar voice and lyrics has created a breathtaking album.
Rogers keeps the upbeat, almost pop-rock vibe going in “Want Want”, a powerful track covering adult themes of sex and intimacy. Things slow down a bit in my personal favorite, “Anywhere With You,” which serves as the perfect song to play during the climax of a coming-of-age movie. She delivers an intense notion of being in love so much that it consumes you which creates feelings of adolescence, especially in parts like “You tell me forever couldn’t come too soon/I wanna lose my mind in a hotel room with you/ Anywhere would do/ I’m sittin’ in the bath like it’s pouring rain/ You call me from the heart just to say my name.”
The fifth track, “Horses,” was also the third single she released before the entire album, and the singer-songwriter herself has credited it to being one of the raw-est and most emotional tracks she has ever written, and that’s certainly true with its melancholy feel and lyrics that sound like begs. “Would you come with me or would you resist?/ Oh, could you just give in?”
The rest of the songs are a back-and-forth between covering growing up and already being an adult. In “I’ve Got a Friend,” Rogers sings a simple, beautiful song about friendship, adding in snippets of conversations between her and indie sensation Clairo. All of the tracks are meticulously detailed, with transitions from being carefree to the responsibilities that Rogers had to take on after achieving massive fame. And yet, she was able to maintain a sense of freedom and passion, like in her eleventh track, “Symphony,” which focuses on chilling out and doing what you want. Almost like a reminder to herself, she sings, “So just be here/ There’s nowhere else I’d rather be/ And there’s a symphony/ Every time you look my way/ I know we’re underslept/ And life’s a promise that never ends/ But you can handle it/ Take a breath.”
The album ends with “Different Kind of World”, the most folk-like of all of the songs. The message is simple, yet impactful, a full look at the person Rogers has come without sugarcoating the anxieties she still feels. She reflects on these sentiments in “My knees are aching, back is breaking/ Thinking bout’ the state of the world” while still affirming that “I’m a different kind of girl.”
Maggie Rogers has written and performed a truly stunning collection on Surrender, and it feels easy to compare her to other innovators like Taylor Swift, St. Vincent, or even Charity Rose Thielen. But, Rogers still has her own distinct strong voice, paired with heart-wrenching and extraordinary lyrics that symbolize not just her coming-of-age, but that of everyone who ever struggled to grasp their own growing up.