Maggie Rogers is yet another 21st century pop star looking to bring authenticity to the genre, and she succeeds with the release of her debut album.
In “Heard It in a Past Life,” released on Jan. 18, the fresh-faced singer-songwriter appeased her fanbase with 45 minutes of her newest works.
Though most artists have a gradual rise to success, Rogers rocketed to stardom in 2016. After a video of the Maryland native performing for Pharrell Williams went viral three years ago, the internet sank its claws into the then-21-year-old and hasn’t loosened its grip.
“Heard It in a Past Life” is a cohesive testament to Rogers’s aesthetic — one that mirrors Stevie Nicks’s eclectic and folky sound. It’s a stark contrast to others on the top 100, like sugar-coated Ariana Grande or grungy Billie Eilish, but Rogers doesn’t fade into the background.
The standout track of the album is “Light On,” a sort of love letter to her day-one fans. She sings, “If you keep reaching out/ I’ll keep coming back/ And if you’re gone for good/ Then I’m okay with that.” The vocal-driven track isn’t over-produced, and the heavy percussion gives the song potential to be a stellar beginning for a live show. Currently, Rogers’s headlining U.S. tour is sold out.
“It’s an uncomfortable thing to tell a group of people who supported you through everything that it wasn’t always perfect, that I wasn’t always happy,” Rogers wrote to fans in a note posted to Instagram. “Change is messy. Messy is human.”
The end of “Heard It in a Past Life” is particularly strong. In “Retrograde,” Rogers reconciles with her past and allows herself to become vulnerable: “Oh, here I am, settling, crying out/ Finding all the things I can’t do without/ Oh, now I’m giving in/ Oh, now I’m in retrograde.”
In another Instagram note, Rogers wrote, “This is a song about a breakdown. It is the most amazing feeling to play this one live — to yell with every part of me and feel the air from the back of my throat, letting go.”
Overall, “Heard It in a Past Life” is the right stepping stone for Rogers. Exposing her own humanity through her debut album is proof that the rookie artist is sticking to her guns. If Rogers can escape the Pharrell narrative — one that reduces her to a doe-eyed girl who got her golden ticket moment — she has the potential to completely dominate indie-pop and challenge the foothold that veterans like Florence Welch and Lana Del Rey have on the genre.