“Heard It in a Past Life” Album Review

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Maggie Rogers: the Future of Pop Music, Today

On Jan. 18, Maggie Rogers released her first album since the overnight success of her song that went viral, “Alaska.” For an entire year, we waited for the mystery girl who had stunned Pharrell Williams speechless to tell us who she really is. Heard It in a Past Life is finally here to answer that question.

The album opens with “Give A Little,” the perfect, catchy pop intro song we could’ve hoped for but maybe not what we would’ve expected. Rogers wrote of the track on her Instagram that it is a “clean slate” and that this was her chance to “tell you this story in her own words.” The song’s chorus features the empowering vocals, “if you give a little, maybe we could learn to love each other.”

Other notable tracks include “The Knife” and “Retrograde,” which showcase Roger’s unique brand of sultry, mumble-singing placed in juxtaposition to her powerful, belting vocal range reminiscent of female indie greats such as Florence Welch or Lorde.

Heard It in a Past Life is beautifully experimental and keeps you on your toes from track 1 all the way to track 13. No two songs are the same as Rogers plays with every sound in the book from rainmakers, shakers and pianos (on “Fallingwater”) to “glacier and frog samples” (on “Overnight”).

Rogers has been vocal for some time about her adoration for electronic dance music and Heard It in a Past Life exudes this influence in new and interesting ways through every song. “On + Off” is one track so emblematic of her love for this upbeat tempo and how she makes it her own through the overlaying of skillful synthesizers and killer electric guitars.

“Past Life” stands out on the album as the track with the least upbeat dance influence. On this first track that Rogers wrote for the album, which she wrote on her grandmother’s piano and recorded in one take, there is a solemn vulnerability which ends up fitting perfectly in the telling of this album’s story. “Past Life” speaks to the emotions that accompany coping with change and the strength it takes to choose to love your life in any and all forms it may take.

Rogers admitted that the song “Say It” was written and inspired by a momentary crush on a boy and the “sparkly feeling of possibility” that accompanies falling in love. Maggie Rogers has, with this album, created the quintessential playlist for possibilities and quite frankly, they’ve never sounded so sparkly.

If Heard It in a Past Life is any example, Maggie Rogers is truly an indie-pop voice to be reckoned with. Rogers released the single “Light On” earlier this year, which she credits to being “the most vulnerable song on the album.” This track is the perfect example of what Rogers has managed to do with this style of music as she adjusts to the crazy, surreal time of personal sudden celebrity. Rogers is a passionate and persevering beam of light on this track demanding empathy from her listeners. “Change is messy. Messy is human,” Rogers wrote in the explanation of this song.

What is not messy, however, is Rogers production style on Heard It in a Past Life. Every track on this album is short, ranging mostly from three to four minutes per song. But each track manages to jam so much complex, soundboard experimentation, live instrumentation, and perfect synchronization of echoic background vocals behind Rogers’ soulful singing voice.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate being alive, Heard It in a Past Life is the album for you. This record is a unique collection of dance-pop anthems that will have you struggling to keep from feeling empowered, optimistic and inspired. Rogers’ style is the perfect blend of coffee-house meets electronic-club and Heard It in a Past Life serves to be a refreshing reminder of the potential pop music has in modern-day times to bring about the ground-breaking unification of music in all forms and genres.  


Stephanie Tkaczyk is a senior majoring in Kinesiology who enjoys stressing herself out by taking unnecessary writing classes in order to satisfy her creative side. She loves finding new music more than anything, in addition to traveling to every place on the planet and spending time with other people who watch too many movies. You can follow her on Instagram @hotsteph24.


Tags: Album, lyrics, Maggie Rogers, music, Pharrell Williams, review, tracks