Published on March 18th, 2017 | by Kelsey Simpkins0
Maggie Rogers: Now That the Light Is Fading | Much more than “Alaska”
The best part would be… the entire rest of the EP. While “Alaska” holds its own among the top 40 and other tunes on today’s airwaves, its fault lies in that it is a single. It tries a little too hard to be something it’s not. And by nature, it doesn’t play as well with others.
So I thought Rogers was good, but after hearing “Alaska,” I was about to write her off as just another female indie electronic artist with a quirky, recognizable voice.
Then I heard “Color Song.” Well, I’ll be.
Rogers’ solo vocals on the opening track are unaccompanied, stark and startling. Like an old American hymn, Rogers sings of the day fading with its dying embers, and the creeping dawn. The harmonies chase and echo each other, her own voice weaving in and out of itself. If I knew nothing else of her music, I would think the next tune to be an indie folk piece, with acoustic guitar. Something like what the Staves or Joseph have succeeded with recently.
Rogers surprises then, with an indie electronic sequel. And there is nothing inherently wrong with “Alaska,” but unless it is listened to with quality headphones, so much of the breadth and depth in the composition is lost. As most listeners will hear it on the radio, its legacy will suffer for it. Rogers also holds back, playing to fit in with a scene that she is more talented than.
The last three tracks shine much brighter in Rogers’ originality and longevity.
She doesn’t hold back in the groovy, heavier beats of “On + Off,” which sparkles straight out of the gate; picking up the slack where “Alaska” lacks to captivate. It’s the first tune on the album that I find myself grooving to without meaning to, singing along to the simple four-word phrase of the chorus, and wanting to put it on a playlist for long rides in the car. It’s a fabulous example of a new artist blending their vocals, their compositional style and experimental electronics with a dynamic result.
Rogers continues this streak with “Dog Years,” which leans more toward the contemporary radio pop of “Alaska,” but rings distinctively of Rogers and no one else. After her radio single, this tune is the next gateway track for new fans who are skeptical of the a cappella opening or spooked by the inventive intensity of “On + Off.”
“Better” is one of the better tunes on this short compilation, again getting me into it effortlessly with its simplicity and solid composition. Rogers feels exactly in her element, flowing along just as easily as my mind does. It’s a nice any-time-of-day song, palatable for any season or situation.
Rogers debut, Now That the Light Is Fading is only five songs, all slightly different in their own way.
So it’s hard to tell what she is laying the groundwork for, and whether she is trying to join the mainstream pop culture or carve herself an indie fan following. As songs, they are all strong showings, displaying five varied strengths of her talent and skill. But the cohesiveness I was hoping for fails to show, and Rogers’ EP falls into the category of “a bunch of good songs on one release,” instead of “an album.” Let’s hope then, unlike the title of her release, her light is just beginning to shine.