Embracing emotion wholeheartedly, her second record pulls you in even on first listen, and grabs you by the scruff of the neck Six years ago, Maggie Rogers was attending a songwriting masterclass at New York University, where none other than Pharrell Williams was the guest mentor. Rogers played him a new song she’d written, Alaska, and Williams’ astonished reaction ensured that the resulting video soon went viral. It’s intriguing to watch that video now – with Pharrell being visibly stunned by what he was listening to, and a nervous Rogers flashing side-eyed glances at him – especially knowing what was to come.
It is only fitting that Maggie Rogers recently graduated from Harvard Divinity School, as her sophomore release has proven her the indisputable patron saint of millennial pop. Surrender, while functioning perfectly as a cohesive whole, consists of brief snapshots from Rogers' life, the sort of intimate images one might hide within a dusty trunk or drawer, occasionally unearthing them to examine one's own face, frozen in time, nostalgic and mystified. In many senses, it is the ultimate late-pandemic release, the very work predicted a year ago by the likes of Lorde's Solar Power and, more recently, Charli XCX's Crash, sent to offer an even clearer premonition of what post-pandemic music could sound like.
In 2016, Pharrell Williams visited NYU and held a masterclass with a handful of students, the last of which was then-21 year old Maggie Rogers . Initially left at a loss for words by her song "Alaska", he went on to compare Rogers' music to that of the Wu Tang Clan, describing it as similarly "singular" and incomparable. The appeal of that song - which has since been certified Gold in the United States - is obvious; earthy and earnest, it combines electronic elements with conventional indie-folk arrangements to create a decisive artistic statement grounded by Rogers' lilting vocal delivery and lyrics that convey wide-eyed wonderment at the world around her.
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.