Was Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Sour’ worth the wait? Critics call it ‘pop euphoria’

Teenage singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo has achieved one of the fastest ascents of any artist in history. Since January she has racked up three top-10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, two of which debuted at number-one (“Drivers License” and “Good 4 U”). And she performed on “Saturday Night Live” on May 15. All of that was before the May 21 release of her debut album “Sour.” So is her new collection worthy of all that advance hype?

Judging from the reviews, the answer is yes. As of this writing “Sour” has a MetaCritic score of 84 based on 16 reviews thus far: 15 positive, one mixed, and none outright negative. Music journos are saying she’s a “major player in … teen pop and adult pop,” who achieves “euphoria” with her expressions of “anger, jealousy, and bewilderment.” It’s “one of the most gratifyingly undignified breakup albums ever made.”

Of course, Rodrigo isn’t the only teenager who has spun heartache and angst into gold — consider Fiona Apple, Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Billie Eilish. And an album-length kiss-off to a faithless ex is familiar to those who have listened to Alanis Morrissette (“Jagged Little Pill”) and Adele (“21”). But “like Eilish and Lorde before her, Rodrigo possesses both a knack for stealthy pop hooks and a vocal control beyond her years.” If this is how she debuts at 18, “how mighty might she be when she’s 30?”

So critics have concluded that Rodrigo has met the high expectations she has already set for herself after releasing her debut single <checks watch> four months ago. What do you think? Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow music fans here in our forums.

Maura Johnston (Entertainment Weekly): “The album, which Rodrigo worked on with producer and co-writer Dan Nigro, announces the California native as a major player in the ever-shifting spheres of teen pop and adult pop. She’s a singer who zeroes in on her lyrics’ emotional core and a writer who’s pushing past the noise of the outside world and listening intently to her truth.”

Chris Willman (Variety): “If she’s this strong in her first very first at-bat, how mighty might she be when she’s 30? And then, why are we worrying about a dozen years down the line when there’s an album this good right in front of us? How sweet it is. The good news is, a lot of the until-now-unheard tracks from ‘Sour’ are even better than the three tracks that have already been out there.”

Rachel Aroesti (The Guardian): “The 18-year-old songwriter makes good on her record-breaking debut single with a first album that metabolises anger, jealousy and bewilderment into pop euphoria … a collection of polished, precociously accomplished pop that doubles as one of the most gratifyingly undignified breakup albums ever made.”

Sal Cinquemano (Slant): “She’s clearly plugged in to her generation’s insecurities and preoccupations, and she effortlessly alternates between a disaffected vocal style similar to that of Billie Eilish and distorted yelps reminiscent of a young Kim Deal … Like Eilish and Lorde before her, Rodrigo possesses both a knack for stealthy pop hooks and a vocal control beyond her years.”

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