It’s refreshing to see an artist under so much pressure to be patient with herself. This applies not just to Maggie Rogers’ debut album, 2019’s Heard It in a Past Life (which arrived nearly three years after her viral breakout hit “Alaska”), but to her new album, Surrender.
In between releases and a grueling touring cycle in which Rogers played nearly every major festival in the country (before the pandemic re-routed everyone), she continued her education by earning a graduate degree from Harvard, taking the time to hone the sounds and ideas of her sophomore LP while opening herself to the world of academia once again. And now, complete with her masters diploma and a revived spirit, Maggie Rogers returns with a fully-formed effort that feels leagues beyond her first LP, with some of the best-written songs in her catalog.
Perhaps the largest advancement in Rogers’ sound is her embracing of the fuzzy palate and patterns of indie rock. Where Heard It in a Past Life’s sonics were in a more anonymous indie pop gray area, Surrender (out this Friday, July 29th) leans heavily into crunchy guitars and blown-out drums. From the very first song, aptly titled “Overdrive,” these grittier elements work to expose Rogers’ vulnerable tone, and provide a sense of authorship that hadn’t been as clearly on display in her last effort.
Lead single “That’s Where I Am” continues the blending of the harsh and driven with the serene, finding moments of space to let her sun-kissed guitar work pop out of the fray, all while the drums pound and the low end spikes. Later on, Rogers channels the NYC post-punk of the 2000s on “Shatter,” and it’s the most vital she’s ever sounded.