Maggie Rogers – Don’t Forget Me

Sketch-like portraits of pure feeling...

Maggie Rogers is moving with alacrity. New album ‘Don’t Forget Me’ is littered with allusions to travel, to putting her foot down and hitting the road. Maybe that’s because the past two years have seen her traverse the globe, taking her 2022 album ‘Surrender’ to stages as disparate as Coachella and Glastonbury, Los Angeles and Tokyo. If that album was thorough, pored-over, and maximalist in detail, then ‘Don’t Forget Me’ is the opposite – sketch-like, at times deliberately rough, she cites the photography of Linda McCartney as a key point of reference.

The sonic equivalent of glimpsing out the window at the endless rush of landscapes as you head along the motorway, ‘Don’t Forget Me’ is a blur of ideas. Constructed alongside co-pilot Ian Fitchuk in record time, the songs – Maggie affirms – “flew out of me”, conjuring aspects of her “deepest intuition”. Retaining much of the sonic aspects that framed ‘Surrender’ – the 90s production aspects, the Americana-fringed acoustic chording – this time round she’s aiming for essence, she’s delivering speed.

It is, we have to say, a wonderful decision. Seemingly largely first takes, there’s a curious freshness to ‘Don’t Forget Me’. Take refulgent opener ‘It Was Coming All Along’ with its lush Cranberries chording, and that imperious vocal – “everybody’s going crazy…” A derangement of the senses, the album is a helter-skelter ride, a half-remembered story that only coalesces in the telling.

‘Drunk’ lingers on those Cardigans-style arpeggios, conjuring perpetual movement in the process. A ride in the tour bus, it leads in piquant fashion to the stately Tom Petty strut that dominates ‘So Sick of Dreaming’, and ‘The Kill’ with its open promise to “drive upstate”.

Sacrificing detail for elucidatory conversation, ‘Don’t Forget Me’ is often at its best when the guts of the song are exposed, the pre-amble and post-production removed. ‘If Now Was Then’ is truly demo-like in its arrangement, an Impresionistic sketch that works through the purity of her vocal. ‘On & On & On’ is the sound of two close musicians having fun in the studio, while the acoustic ‘Never Going Home’ revels in its simplicity.

At times, though, Maggie Rogers can still go a little broader, still fill in the details. For all the close mic’d intimact of ‘All The Same’, say, there is also the broader, instant-classic feel of title track ‘Don’t Forget Me’, an elegant closer that comes straight from the gut.

Songs that attempt to pin down wriggly, half-defined emotions, ‘Don’t Forget Me’ is a wonderfully succinct burst of creativity. Each note feels necessary, each word feels heartfelt – in chipping away at the excess to reveal these personal snapshots, Maggie Rogers has unlocked something very special indeed.

8/10

Words: Robin Murray

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