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‘Older’ Single Review: A New Era for Lizzy McAlpine

3.5 Stars

Lizzy McAlpine released her single, "Older," on Feb. 13.
Lizzy McAlpine released her single, "Older," on Feb. 13. By Courtesy of Lizzy McAlpine / RCA Records
By Michael F. Bido and Juliet Bu, Contributing Writers

American singer-songwriter Lizzy McAlpine released her new song “Older,” the lead single for her upcoming album of the same name, on Feb. 13. McAlpine’s new single focuses on familiar themes of love and coming-of-age, but it is far weaker than her previous work. With simple instrumentation and repetitive lyrics, McAlpine takes an understated approach that may leave listeners feeling underwhelmed. Choosing such a stagnant song as a lead single raises questions of whether the upcoming album will be fresh or unexceptional. But despite its basic sound, “Older” plays into McAlpine’s strengths and is beautiful in its simplicity, serving its purpose as an emotional and somber track.

Although “Older” draws on similar ideas to McAlpine’s previous work, the track feels far more somber and stripped back. “five seconds flat,” McAlpine’s second album, featured complex production, playing with layered vocals and emotional acoustics. Although some fans may miss her experimentation, it’s clear that “Older” truly solidifies McAlpine’s sound as raw and haunting through her use of a more melancholy approach. The track features a repeated chord structure on the piano, with an interesting minor inflection during the chorus that scratches the brain. While the instrumentals may be unremarkable, they are certainly not colorless, as the dull sounds match the energy that the lyrics create. The piano track’s subtleness forces listeners to focus on McAlpine’s poetic abilities and stunning vocals, drawing them into what she has to say.

Listening to“Older” feels like hearing a journal entry from McAlpine’s diary, full of looming thoughts and hopeless feelings. Lyrics such as “Stuck in a loop / Watch the curtain come down” and “Over and over / Watch it all pass” depict McAlpine’s discontentment with life’s exhausting monotony of life and her inability to break free from the cycle. Additionally, she draws on relatable feelings of nostalgia and regret with the line “Mom’s getting older / I’m wanting it back,” expressing her desire for simpler times. Ending the track with the line, “I wish I knew what the end is,” she shows that she is not trying to express a fully-formed thought, instead fixating on the uncertainty of what lies ahead. While the song’s tired progression aligns well with her message, stronger lyrical variation would have allowed McAlpine’s meaning to come through more clearly.

“Older” is a surprisingly motionless song to choose as a lead single, but its stillness may be a selling point for listeners. Its dreary, descriptive lyrics, and repetitive instrumentals are anything but lifeless, as many people can relate to the sentiment of feeling powerless over their lives and stuck going through the motions. With no climax, rhythmic variation, or particularly noteworthy moments, this track may feel unremarkable compared to McAlpine’s previous works, which packed more of a punch. However, her slow-paced singing, delicate instrumentals, and lack of predictable form invoke an empty feeling in the listener that is genuine and unsettling. While “Older” is certainly not for everyone, Lizzy McAlpine captures relatable feelings with a gloomy approach and invokes familiar wistful sentiments through her delicate sound.

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