ALBUM REVIEW: Olivia Rodrigo - Sour

TEEN ANGST: Olivia Rodrigo's debut album Sour is an impressive collection of pop-rock melodrama.

TEEN ANGST: Olivia Rodrigo's debut album Sour is an impressive collection of pop-rock melodrama.

IF you've somehow missed hearing Olivia Rodrigo's debut single Driver's License this year, it's time to catch up. The 18-year-old Californian pop star is kind of a big deal.

Rodrigo's song Good 4 U is the most streamed song globally on Spotify this week and all 11 tracks off her debut album Sour, inhabit the top 22.

In the physical charts, Sour's success has been just as sweet. It's gone No.1 in 13 countries, including the UK, US and Australia.

It's a phenomenal result for the former child star, who rose to fame in Disney shows Bizaardvark and High School Musical.

Disney's various junior entertainment programs have long been a fertile breeding ground for pop stars - Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake spring to mind. But with due respect to those artists, Rodrigo arrives as a genuine songwriter and a possible usurper to Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish's mantle.

Driver's License has quickly become the biggest pop song of the COVID-era with it's classic break-up tale that finishes with heart-trodden hook of "Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street."

The melodrama of Driver's License can be nauseating - this is an album of teen heartbreak and angst after all - but Rodrigo impresses elsewhere. The grungy opener Brutal, borrows its riff from Elvis Costello's Pump It Up, before Rodrigo delivers the spoken-word hook of, "God, it's brutal out here".

Sour is a two-paced album. Rodrigo either wants to rebel and hoist a middle-finger at past lovers and tear down her sweet Disney image with rockers Good 4 U and Jealousy, Jealousy or open her broken heart through lush folk-pop (Enough For You, 1 Step Forward 3 Steps Back). The latter features the same chord progression as Taylor Swift's song Reputation, which resulted in Tay-Tay receiving a co-write credit.

As far as debut albums go Sour is a charismatic collection of pop songs that will ensure Rodrigo becomes the first mega popstar of the 2020s. It's an impressive start, but you suspect Rodrigo's best albums are years away.

Tay-tay might be looking over her shoulder.

4 stars 

This story Sour proves Olivia Rodrigo is sweeter than Driver's License first appeared on Newcastle Herald.