Whatever you think of Olivia Rodrigo — whatever you could say (or tweet) about the 18-year-old singer-songwriter shaping up to be pop’s breakout star of 2021 — trust that Rodrigo has already thought it.
She knows she’s “obsessive,” as she puts it in one song from her wily and affecting debut album, “Sour”; she knows she’s “too emotional,” as she puts it in another. And though she also knows she “thinks too much ’bout kids who don’t know me,” she simply can’t help it: “I hate the way I’m perceived,” Rodrigo admits in a voice proudly defined by SoCal vocal fry — a pretty striking confession given that it comes barely a minute into an LP whose whole job is to introduce her.
Hot on the heels of “Drivers License,” Rodrigo’s gloriously melodramatic power ballad that came out of nowhere to spend eight weeks atop Billboard’s Hot 100, “Sour” might be the most self-aware pop record in recent memory. Again and again across these 11 songs, Rodrigo measures her values and desires against those of others; she describes how her experience of a relationship differed from an ex’s and wonders why she’s not as psyched about being young as older people keep telling her she should be.