Maggie Rogers – Surrender

While doing my degree, I did a lot of nothing, just the classic sleeping through early classes and pretending Mondays didn’t exist. What did Maggie Rogers do while getting a Harvard degree? Make a modern masterpiece.

There’s clearly something about Maggie and education. Booming into public attention following a viral video of Pharrell Williams listening to her song ‘Alaska’ during a college class, the NYU student became an indie-pop favourite overnight. But more than ever on the new record ‘Surrender’ all of the singer’s education and knowledge takes centre stage. Utilising the skills learnt in her music engineering degree to entirely self-produce the record, and borrowing from her recent masters in spirituality and ethics, the album is a push-and-pull act of know-how and thought.

Describing the album as a display of ‘feral joy’, nothing could be a better label. From the opening of ‘Overdrive’ each track feels imbued with full-body tingles, replicating that live music excitement on tape. Leaning into fuller instrumentals as she follows the trajectory of her earlier works, the electro-pop elements of ‘Alaska’ and the hooks of ‘Lights On’ find more mature footing as songs like ‘Anywhere With You’ take the same format of soft verses and huge choruses but levels it up. With more electric guitars, more effects, more conscious, almost editorial decisions, especially on the lead single ‘That’s Where I Am’, the album is self-assured and solid. With the instrumental and production locked down into faultless perfection, all the space is left for Maggie to fill it with that magic she always brings. 

Taking inspiration from the circle of female musicians that she’s previously referred to as her musical big sisters, you can hear the guidance of Patti Smith, Kim Gordon, Taylor Swift and even Bjork in here. Borrowing elements from slacker rock to pure radio pop, Maggie weaves a path between euphoric mainstream gold into the depths of niche sub-genres without ever losing her grip on the listener. Captivated by these stories of deep, rich emotion, the vibrant soundtrack serves as scores for bodily experiences of living and loving, as this “feral joy” threatens to boil over into tears, dancing or screaming.

Even in comparison to her 2019 album, ‘Surrender’ paints a portrait of a fully-formed, confident artist. Maggie’s vocals throughout are breath-taking in their freedom as she seems to perform without restraint. Pushing herself further and taking from inspiration outside of the mould that some might put her in, the result is something so full of release. From the lyrical outpouring of questions and realisations, to the emotions encapsulated by these instrumental vignettes and thoughtful production, you get the sense that Maggie is at home here in this state of experimentation and consideration.


Words: Lucy Harbron

Dig This? Dig Deeper: MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers, Taylor Swift

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.