June Album Reviews


“SOUR” by Olivia Rodrigo

Rating: 9.2/10

By: Isabelle Pala

At only 18 years old, Olivia Rodrigo released her first album entitled “SOUR” on May 21 and it’s been met with overwhelming praise from teenagers around the world. 

After releasing three singles, Rodrigo gifted the world with “SOUR”, and I think everyone is thankful for it. Rodrigo dips her toes into numerous genres throughout the album; “Brutal” and “good 4 you” explore her pop-punk side, “jealousy, jealousy” emanates alt-rock vibes, and many others like “1 step forward, 3 steps back” and “happier” are softer pop ballads. 

What drives Rodrigo’s appeal to young people so much, whether they’re going through heartbreak or not, is the raw emotion she conveys. Rodrigo gives every song her all and doesn’t hold back any of the sadness, anger, and betrayal she feels towards her ex, who is the main subject of the album. While one could argue that the album is too focused on her failed relationship, I think it makes it more authentic.  

“Brutal” and “jealousy, jealousy” tap into the insecurities and struggles with self-image that many teenage girls face. The lyrics of the latter were some of the most relatable of the album, singing “Co-comparison is killin’ me slowly / I think I think too much / ‘Bout kids who don’t know me / I’m so sick of myself, I’d rather be, rather be / Anyone, anyone else.” 

While the rest of “SOUR” has certainly lived up to its expectations, the strongest tracks are still probably the singles she released in the weeks leading up to the album: “good 4 u” and “deja vu.” They are brilliantly catchy and do not lack in the lyrics department. 

To think that Rodrigo released her first single in early January and is now standing near Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande on Spotify’s global charts is astounding. While there is certainly room for improvement, “SOUR” was no doubt a success and I can’t wait for what’s to come in Rodrigo’s next years on the world stage. •

“The Off-Season” by J. Cole 

Rating:  9/10  

By: Jean-Pierre Roberts

On May 14th, the critically acclaimed J. Cole released his 6th solo album “The Off-Season.” 

The album starts with classic J. Cole lyricism and heavy wordplay in the song “95.south,” He also brings a new level of darkness and grime to this album’s rhythm, production, sound, and atmosphere, nearly resembling “drill” beats. 

J. Cole takes a step away from his soulful lyrics, directly talking about the struggles of Black men throughout America. He tries to take the time to praise himself and his success while reflecting on his past experiences through lyrics like “Cole been goin’ plat’ since back when CDs was around” in “95.south.”  He also bares a certain vulnerability that many rap albums omit as seen by lyrics like “If I said I was the toughest growin’ up, I would be lying.”

The album famously broke J. Cole’s streak of hitting platinum with no features as 21 Savage, Morray, Bas, and others are featured on numerous tracks. Fortunately, every single feature mentioned carried their ends of the deal and perfectly carried the emotion and story J. Cole was painting. 

The album focuses on J. Cole and where he is in life, as “punchin’.the.clock” and “close” reflect on his struggles with death and fear. This album, as described in the documentary, encapsulates what J. Cole wants to do moving forward: become comfortable with retirement as he puts out his last few stories. 

The beats of these tracks are a lot heavier than the soft melodic rhythm we received in albums like “2014 Forest Hills Drive” and “4 Your Eyez Only.” One track, “pride.is.the.devil,” is a pitched down and slowed remake of the Aminé track “Can’t Decide,” but frankly Aminé runs this beat much better than J. Cole did. 

J. Cole has once again impressed us with his lyrical composition, versatility with sounds, and now his ability to work with other rappers. The album is a refreshing dive into the eyes of a rapper who has gained significant fame and wealth yet is facing the inevitable end of his career. •

“Harmony House” by Dayglow

Rating – 8/10

By: Waleeja Chaudhry

Released on May 21, 2021, Dayglow’s sophomore album “Harmony House” is a collection of uplifting songs released just in time to make summer feel like a coming-of-age movie. 

The singer Slone Struble composed and produced this bedroom pop album while being stuck in his house with nothing to do, just like the rest of us. “Harmony House is about the reality of growing up,” Dayglow explains. All of the songs are highly personal to him, and they highlight the highs and lows of achieving fame and getting so much attention so quickly. 

Compared to his debut album “Fuzzybrain”—which he produced during his high school years—“Harmony House” has a retro spin to his usual uplifting indie music. Struble was inspired by the theme song to the TV show Cheers and soft rock from the 70s and 80s. 

Melodic and smooth transitions with the influence of rock guitar from the 70s are a repeated theme in the album. This is apparent in the song “Crying on the Dancefloor,” a rom-com inspired song with a heavenly saxophone riff and harmonious singing. The song “Balcony” helps the audience view the album as a more youthful version of a Tame Impala record whereas songs like “Medicine” and “Something” have a more Disco-esque conception to them. 

Arguably the best track on the album, “Close to you,” released in January 2021, is a phenomenal anthem with gloomy lyrics yet danceable rhythm. Struble switches between a falsetto and his normal vocals in “Close to you” which was a perfect addition to the album as a whole. Struble explained that “the song itself is about the tension between two people at a party that never said hello.” 

“Harmony House” is filled with retro 80s disco sounds and relaxing harmonies that make listeners feel nostalgic and utterly happy. Mixing psych-pop and indie pop, Dayglow has blessed us with a vibrant album that would be a great addition to your summer playlist as we return to a near-normal life. •