Release Date: Jan 18, 2019
Record label: Capitol
After she released the Now That the Light Is Fading EP, Maggie Rogers issued a string of singles that hinted she was moving in a poppier direction. However, her debut album Heard It in a Past Life offers a more complete picture of her music that gives equal time to her electronic leanings as well as her folky roots, both of which she combined brilliantly on her breakthrough single "Alaska." That song also appears here, and its effortless blend of styles and Rogers' guileless singing still sparkles. On the rest of Heard It in a Past Life, she finds different ways to forge her own bright, assured version of pop.
It's no surprise that Maggie Rogers' 2016 breakthrough 'Alaska' finds a home on this eagerly anticipated debut full-length. The song saw the Maryland-raised singer achieve viral fame, as a video of her presenting the track to mega-producer Pharrell Williams during her time at NYU spread across the internet. Yet over two years later, it now serves to show the massive strides Maggie's made in honing her increasingly distinctive sound.
Maggie Rogers writes empowering, honest songs about falling hopelessly in love, getting your heart broken and discovering your self-worth. Her debut album is the work of an idiosyncratic talent Today's pop stars grow up fast. Look at Sigrid selling out Brixton Academy without dropping an album, or Troye Sivan, who performed with Taylor Swift last year after she fell in love with his early EP 'Trxye'.
Not only in her voice, but in the way she pieces together her work and tugs at you. And three years after she was plastered across your friends' social media feeds and was being talked about in breathy tones on radio programmes and at the back of gigs, Rogers is here with her first major-label album. Making a first 'major' album, which already must be one of the most daunting things a creative person can embark on, must become an almost unmanageable feat when you add the pressure of Pharrell Williams liking the first track he (and everyone else) ever heard from you.
It is tempting to imagine Maggie Rogers' career rollout had she not found viral fame from Pharrell's patronage: the narrative she might have chosen, the songs she could have deployed to establish her aesthetic. This student at the Clive Davis Institute had just started incorporating electronica into her folky songwriting when the visiting producer poured lavish praise on her class project, "Alaska. " It is ironic that a song about a recent personal reclamation ("And I walked off you/And I walked off an old me") led to a renewed loss of control in Rogers' life, one that she has likened to a violation, or, in the naturalistic songwriting she prefers, a bout of freak weather.
In a world in which cynicism appears to be everyone's default setting, it would be easy to write off Maggie Rogers as an industry plant - an artist who seemingly came from nothing, went viral, landed a record contract and the rest is history. It's a story we've seen countless times before and an argument, used by many, to delegitimise the work of the individual for whom this criticism is often unfounded. However, as is proven on Rogers' debut release she is, and always has been, more than just the doe-eyed girl that flawed Pharrell Williams in a viral video a few years ago.
Pharrell Williams could think of no higher praise when he compared Maggie Rogers to a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup at a college class in 2016. The viral video of Williams getting slack-jawed upon hearing the demo of Rogers' "Alaska" instantly made her an artist-to-watch. The now-24-year-old Rogers, to her credit, took her time in putting together her debut album, "Heard It in a Past Life" (Capitol), but the music under any circumstances would be hard-pressed to match the high, perhaps unreasonable, expectations created by the "Alaska"-Pharrell-YouTube Trifecta.
Rating: NNN Maggie Rogers's pop narrative began with virality. The video of her moving Pharrell Williams to tears by playing him her song Alaska at NYU was a defining sign of what she's capable of - a big voice and big moment in front of a major industry player. A quieter part of the singer/songwriter's come-up is that she interned for the journalist Lizzy Goodman while she worked on Meet Me In The Bathroom, her oral history of 2000s indie rock.
W hile studying at New York University's Tisch school of the arts, whose alumni include Lady Gaga and Childish Gambino, Maryland songwriter Maggie Rogers performed her song Alaska for her class's mentor, Pharrell Williams. His intense reaction sent the clip, and the song, viral. Rogers's wildly accelerated career since has been about riding and directing that initial rocket-boost, with disproportionate acclaim greeting her debut EP of electronic pop.