Olivia Rodrigo shows potential with debut album “SOUR”

When entering the music industry, especially at a young age, it can be difficult for solo artists to produce a debut album that allows them to establish a sound for themselves. However, Olivia Rodrigo successfully proved her potential as a prominent artist with her recently released debut album “SOUR.”

The 18-year-old actress and musician has been in the spotlight for a while, going from Disney Channel’s “Bizaardvark” to hit series “High School Musical the Musical the Series,” in which she was able to showcase her vocals. But it wasn’t until the release of her debut single “Driver’s License” in January 2021 when she began to gain recognition as a solo artist rather than a Disney star.

“SOUR” was released on May 21, 2021, with styles ranging from slow ballads to angsty breakup songs and everything in between.

“Brutal” is the opening track, which immediately captured my attention. Right off the bat, I could see a different style than in songs “Drivers License” and “Deja Vu.” As a moody, resentful track aimed towards teenagers, “Brutal” perfectly captures the angsty emotional state of high schoolers suffering from FOMO (“fear of missing out”).

We get our first taste of a sentimental ballad with “SOUR”’s second track, “Traitor.” The song follows a very slow tune but stays consistent with the sad and resentful theme of the album. I enjoyed the song, but it didn’t immediately grab me. While it fits well with the album, it is not a very strong stand-alone track.

The third song on the album is “Drivers License,” which, I’m sure nearly everyone has heard at least a few verses of. (Seriously, it was hard to avoid a few months back when it was constantly playing on the radio).

Although this song is arguably overplayed, its popularity gave the world a little taste of the music to come. Rodrigo’s debut single serves its purpose of a sad breakup song perfectly.

“Deja Vu” comes next. Originally released as a single, “Deja Vu” was another victim of KISS108’s tendencies to run new songs into the ground, but it held up. Though it has a strong chorus, some of the verses seemed a little too juvenile, which, I could argue, is completely expected and even encouraged from a then seventeen-year-old. Rodrigo’s vocals nicely compliment the song, which was refreshing to hear from a new artist.

Complaints aside, the most noteworthy part of the song was the Taylor Swift-esque bridge. The emotional aspect of the song really comes to a head at this point. The sassiness mixed with heartache intensifies completely as she begins to repeat some of the earlier verses with a more desperate tone. Despite the rough beginning and middle, the song comes to a strong finish with a few repeats of “I know you get deja vu,” giving it a satisfying ending.

The album begins to fall flat with “Happier,” and the last few tracks are pretty unmemorable. Lyrically, these songs are pretty great, but sound-wise, nothing about them stands out to me at all as opposed to other artists in the same slow, sad genre.

Nonetheless, SOUR was almost surprisingly strong for a debut album, especially considering Rodrigo’s young age. The eleven-track album leaves listeners and new fans eager to see where she moves next with her career, and although I can’t say I dislike her slow ballads, a large part of me is hoping she ventures further into the punk-pop genre that we see in tracks “Brutal,” “Jealousy Jealousy Jealousy,” and “Good 4 U.”