Review: On ‘Surrender,’ Maggie Rogers underlies her vitality
“Surrender,” by Maggie Rogers (Capitol Records)
It’s all there in the title. Do as Maggie Rogers asks. Give in to her.
The 12-track “Surrender” is the follow-up to “Heard It in a Past Life,” her 2019 debut album that announced a major talent. The new album only solidifies Rogers as one of the most interesting singer-songwriters out there. It’s less tentative or dreamy than her debut, more brash, confident, compelling and occasionally profane.
From the bubblegum pop of “Want Want” to the soaring ballad “Begging For Rain,” the album consistently sparkles and, in a sign of Rogers’ increasing clout, includes contributions from Florence Welch, Jon Batiste and Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett. Rogers’ voice is unfettered, cascading — running wild like the animals in her single “Horses” — and soars deliriously sometimes to the point of almost cracking.
“Surrender” is a fraught album of love, with many songs seeming to concern the push-pull of reconnecting with a former crush and finally submitting to love. “All I’ve ever wanted is to make something last,” she sings in one song, adding an expletive as a modifier. That sentiment could easily apply to the album, too.
“Surrender” is co-produced by Rogers and Kid Harpoon — who has worked with such singer-songwriting stars as Harry Styles and Shawn Mendes and helped create her last album’s standout song “Light On.” There are many interesting loops and repeating sound effects, but it’s not always perfect, with many songs overproduced.
“Be Cool,” which namechecks Brittney Spears, has weird breaks and an irritating shard of electronica, and “I’ve Got a Friend” loads up dialogue and too much plump piano. Rogers’ songs don’t need any extra flourishes but often there is one garnish too many.
Standouts include “That’s Where I Am,” which has an anthemic timelessness yet is tethered to today’s sound, the driving and emotional “Overdrive” and “Shatter,” which has a sped-up Taylor Swift vibe. “Horses” is a seemingly simple song that turns out to be anything but due to what Rogers does to it with her voice.
On the last track, “Different Kind of World,” Rogers is restrained at first, almost drowsy, then flowers into a rocking crescendo. “I’m a different kind of girl,” she sings. Thank goodness.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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