Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Olivia Rodrigo: Sour [Geffen, 2021]
This manifestly competent 18-year-old actress has a two-boyfriend romantic history dating back to 2018 that pop aesthetes who avoid the Disney channel can just Google--both, unsurprisingly, with actors a year or two older than she is. Also unsurprisingly, she's gorgeous. But that's never stopped women from worrying that their bodies aren't "perfect," which along with other inevitable insecurities was enough to fuel an exquisite teen-breakup concept album produced by 38-year-old helper bunny Daniel Nigro. Again and again dainty melodies meet big drums and are only stronger for it as every simple word comes clear. She doesn't drink yet but knows how he likes his coffee and let's bet her own; she says "fuck" and "bullshit," the latter to modify "eternal love." Though he did the driving let's also bet he gave her some of the lessons that flowered into her first megahit even if she still can't really, in everybody's favorite trope, parallel park. But when he transfers his attentions to "someone more exciting," it's Olivia's jokes he's telling, Olivia's Billy Joel he's playing. And for a transcendent finale she leaves her own pain behind and sends her very best to an abused boy she knew when they were small and a middle school friend with parents who "hated who she loved." A