Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Album review: Lizzy McAlphine’s ‘Older’

McAlpine maintains her signature style while venturing into new territory, deftly expressing a range of emotions
Photo courtesy of IMDb

Lizzy McAlpine’s third album “Older” was released on Friday, April 5, marking a significant milestone in her musical journey. Following the viral success of her hit “Ceilings” from her sophomore album “Five Seconds Flat,” McAlpine has spent the past two years refining her sound and exploring new musical territories. Spanning 14 tracks, “Older” represents a departure from McAlpine’s previous work while still retaining her signature style.

The album opener, “The Elevator,” sets the stage with its ethereal vocals and delicate piano, providing a glimpse into the emotional journey that lies ahead. Being only one minute and 40 seconds, it’s clear the production is both well-done and thoughtful. Abruptly ending, we leave the elevator and step into the penthouse of “Come Down Soon.” With her reminiscent guitar strumming and raw vocals, she introduces us to jazzy undertones and introspective lyrics. Even while singing lyrics such as “Oh, it’ll come down soon / Nothing this good ever lasts this long for me,” McAlpine has a way of giving a warm hug by including these dance-worthy instrumentals.

Continuing the narrative with “It Tends To Do,” McAlpine delves into the scenario of encountering an ex-lover after a prolonged separation. Her delivery, akin to an intimate reading from her personal diary, invites listeners to dissect each word. Here, McAlpine’s storytelling prowess shines brilliantly, painting vivid scenes of emotional thought.

While love has always been a central theme in McAlpine’s music, “Movie Star” offers a fresh perspective on the subject. This track captures the joyful exhilaration of new relationships while ultimately falling out of love. As the song continues, time takes hold as she sings “I feel like a movie star, but it’s getting old / Being famous for someone.”

While its lyrics are quoting anxiety-ridden truths of getting older, the folk-pop instrumentals of “All Falls Down” are undoubtedly some of the best on the album. While showing off her vocal ability, crunchy harmonies and poignant lyricism, “All Falls Down” stands as a strong foundation for the rest of the album.

Complimenting the past two tracks, “Staying” delves into the complexities of staying in love when it might be easier to let go. While there are pros to this relationship, McAlpine makes it clear that while leaving may be better, it’s not necessarily easier. She moves with lyrics such as “Maybe I would be okay if I let this go forever / Send it into space and watch the planets turn.”

As the second song released prior to the album in early March, “I Guess” fits like a puzzle piece. While this new album is very reminiscent of her older albums, McAlpine shows a new matured musicality, involving beautiful choral vocals and strong drum beats throughout the song.

“Drunk, Running” presents vivid imagery through her poetic songwriting ability. Sad and frustrating, the theatrical aspects of the song are stronger than ever. Her haunting dissonance is resonant and clear creating a sense of being under the influence.

Meanwhile, “Broken Glass” and “You Forced Me To” explore the emotional toll of heartbreak and self-reflection with haunting clarity. “Broken Glass” is eerily explosive, describing the experience of emotional pain manifesting physically. The song concludes seemingly abruptly as we switch into “You Forced Me To.” Within this continued eerie trance-like state we experience repeating choruses and spiraling playing of keys on the piano.

The album’s title track, “Older,” serves as a poignant reflection on the passage of time and the inevitability of change. McAlpine’s vulnerability shines through as she grapples with the complexities of growing older and navigating life’s uncertainties. A simple piano ballad accompanies as she sings, “Over and over, watch it all pass / Mom’s gettin’ older, I’m wanting it back / Where no one is dying, and no one is hurt / And I have been good to you instead of making it worse.”

This album is no stranger to keeping the tradition of McAlpine’s 13th track honoring her father Mark McAlpine, who passed away on March 13, 2020. “March” carries grief gracefully, exploring the depths of something so unspeakably heart-wrenching.

Closing with the hauntingly beautiful “Vortex,” McAlpine demonstrates her growth as both an artist and a person. Starting as a soft piano ballad, the song gradually builds to be one of the loudest and most powerful songs on the album. The track serves as a culmination of the album’s themes, offering a powerful testament to McAlpine’s journey.

With “Older,” McAlpine has crafted a deeply introspective and emotionally resonant album that showcases her evolution as an artist while still staying true to her unique musical voice. With each song comes beautiful purpose and sentimental nostalgia, creating a cohesive work that stands strong amongst the rest of her discography.

Lexi Lackmann can be reached at [email protected].

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