Album Of The Week: Maggie Rogers – Surrender

The Maryland singer-songwriter’s sophomore album is our pick of the week's new releases

Maggie Rogers is far from the first person to observe that the world can be quite a scary place. But rather than getting angry, or depressed, or galvanised to change things, she’s instead content to follow her path.

“It all works out in the end,” she sings in Surrender’s excellent lead single, ‘That’s Where I Am’. Rogers isn’t surrendering to the heaviness of the world, but rather to those inevitable forces that pull us back to the people and places we belong to.

Maggie Rogers - That’s Where I Am (Official Video)

‘That’s Where I Am’ centers on the idea of a love that follows the narrator throughout her life, forcing her eventually to accept it. It’s not a slow romantic ballad though, with Rogers utilising her signature imaginative production to create something fun and energetic that feels like the happy end to a story. Rogers has even alleged that the song was conceptualised as something to play over the closing credits of a romcom.

Elsewhere in the album she still remains tied to this person – in ‘Anywhere With You’ she speaks of the lengths she’ll go to in order to make them happy, abandoning all restraint for a huge rock ballad that wars with a buzzy, electric instrumental and then winding it down for a beautiful piano outro.

Maggie Rogers - Horses (Official Video)

Much of the album sees Rogers marrying these two sides of herself: the introspective singer-songwriter and the powerhouse pop-rock producer.

‘Horses’, another rich rock ballad, opens with a pulsating electric sound behind Rogers’ strumming, before the track explodes, the chorus bolstered both by Rogers’ rich voice and a slightly dissonant electric guitar.

‘Begging For Rain’, one of the album’s standouts, sees Rogers put her vulnerable vocals and excellent lyricism center stage, whilst the production adds an atmospheric twinkling in the background. It feels like praying. By the end of the track, Rogers big vocals, those magical polishes and the buzzy, dissonant guitar are all working together to create something truly memorable.

Maggie Rogers - Want Want (Official Video)

It’s a particularly poignant sound in an album that speaks so much to acceptance. Rogers puts every part of herself behind the journey that she’s on, discussing not only the transformative power of romantic love, but sexuality, friendship and wanderlust – all things that help build a stronger sense of self if we give in to what’s meant for us.

In ‘Want Want’, a big pop celebration of sex positivity, she accepts and refuses to apologise for her desires. In ‘Horses’, she urges the listener to adopt this same philosophy and follow the path that calls to them. “Will you come with me, or will you resist?” she asks, scolding shortly after: “Oh, could you just give in?”

Maggie Rogers - Surrender (Official Trailer)

That’s not to say there’s no fear in it. ‘Shatter’, a disco-influenced number in which the buzzy electric guitar has even more room to play, acknowledges that not every step along the way is easy, and being pulled back again and again to the same relationship doesn’t always feel like the healthiest path. But – “I don’t even care if it nearly kills me,” sings Rogers defiantly.

‘Honey’, one of the album’s heaviest tracks in which Rogers’ rock vocals appear in full force, tells us not to stress about what’s ahead. “If you’re wondering what you should do with your life/Honey if I knew I would tell you, wouldn’t I?” sings Rogers. It all encourages us to follow her down these paths and out into what becomes, as she details in ‘Different Kind Of World’, a brighter place. Surrender isn’t just descriptive of how Rogers has decided to live. It’s a command.

Surrender is out on Friday 29 July. Maggie Rogers is playing UK dates in October and November 2022, with tickets available here.