The Maggie Rogers Effect: Revisiting SURRENDER One Month Later
One month ago today, Maggie Rogers released her unbounded album Surrender, placating millions of worldwide fans who had been sitting idle since 2019’s Heard It In A Past Life. But for many reasons it feels like Surrender has been around a lot longer than it has, due in part to an extensive build-up that included the release of three singles,“Want Want,” “Horses,” and “That’s Where I Am,” which found its way onto former president Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer playlist and “Best Songs of 2022 (so far)” lists from Esquire, SPIN, and Paste.
Wherever you go, that’s where I am.
Maggie Rogers, “That’s Where I Am”
Aware, perhaps, of her own omnipresence, Maggie Rogers has a keen understanding of the human spirit––the wildness of it. She has a way of sticking with you and making you feel close to her, not to mention a musical sensibility and breadth that is cosmic in a genre-sweeping sort of way. Surrender sounds, in many ways, like a celebration of this gift and of Rogers’ excitement to share it with us.
Such is the allure, and even more so the power, of Maggie Rogers. She is, at once, a larger-than-life musical legend and your best friend. Vulnerability, abandon, exposed, organic––these are not words often used to describe this generation’s crop of popular music. And yet, they all pertain to Rogers, her musical brand, and to Surrender. Inspired by her reclusive time in Maine during the pandemic, Surrender is both an ode to and celebratory embodiment of the radical, the wild, and the open.
Surrender is welcoming from the outset. “Overdrive” kicks off the album in a way that can only be described as vast; Rogers harnesses a sense of boundlessness, her echoed vocals calling out to something beyond the here and now. It’s a powerful way to ignite an album, one that quite literally revs the listener into overdrive, exciting them for the music to follow. And in the wake of “Overdrive” comes pre-releases “That’s Where I Am” and “Want Want.” This opening triple threat concludes the album’s first wave; Surrender is composed of distinct shifts throughout that accomplish a journeying effect.
At this first bend in the road is the wonderful simplicity that builds with “Anywhere With You.” Almost like a second beginning, the rest of Surrender jumps off and away from this fourth song which, over the course of about five minutes, moves from a slow and soft piano-backed track to an all-out dance-pop reverie. Just moments ago Rogers was telling her listener, “That’s where I am”; now she is ready for movement––ready to “go anywhere.”
After “Horses,” Surrender’s third and final pre-release, comes the grungy “Be Cool” and a deconstructed 80s hit “Shatter.” With its cheesy guitar riffs, muffled bass, and an undyingly upbeat synth, “Shatter” at first seems like a simple little thing––an ode to fun, if you will. However, there are unseen depths here too––Rogers is always thinking in grander terms. Breaking up this breezy throwback is the artists’ intensely raw voice, straining anxiously to get her message out over and against the easy-goes-it nature of the backing beat.
Coming up on second bend, Surrender takes yet another turn from its raunchy innards towards a softer, acoustic “Begging for the Rain.” Pitter-pattering drum tremors become atmospheric, hinting not only at the sound of rain, but an entire natural landscape. “Begging for the Rain” is a nostalgic song, with talk of childhood memories, firework displays, and parents coming home. Rogers brings her listener back to earth with this one.
Next is the fun, instrumentally quirky little ode “I’ve Got a Friend,” followed by “Honey” and “Symphony,” until Surrender takes its final bow with “Different Kind of World.” This closing track begins slowly with contented “last call” vibes fit to carry the listener gently out of the album. But again, Rogers makes one final turn, refusing to surrender so easily. In just under three minutes, “Different King of World” builds to a celebratory and cathartic crescendo, crashing on the downbeat much like the waves on the shores of Maine that Rogers took inspiration from. Perfectly encapsulated in a single track, all of Surrender can be heard within the controlled chaos of “Different Kind of World.”
All in all, Maggie Rogers makes music that lasts; the kind of stuff with a shelf-life. You can dance to Surrender, drive to Surrender, cry to Surrender, or celebrate to Surrender. It’s just one of those––an everything album.