Album Review: “Now That the Light Is Fading” by Maggie Rogers

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After blowing Pharrell Williams away with her song “Alaska” at a master class at NYU, Maggie Rogers has finally released her newest EP. Though she has previously released albums as a folk artist, this is her first record following a video of the master class going viral, currently holding over 2 million views. Titled “Now That the Light Is Fading,” the album is a sweet combination of folk, dance, and electronic elements.

Though it only holds five songs, the EP is a musical journey through a semi-natural soundscape, comprised of sounds of mourning doves, woodpeckers, casual conversations, jars and spoons, and heavy bass and guitar.

It starts off slow with “Color Song,” a vocal track with Rogers’ voice harmonizing, on top of the sounds of crickets chirping. It’s a simple song, that uses the music of the animal kingdom creatively, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It sets the tone for the album, but doesn’t really stand up on its own.

“Alaska” is the most heartfelt track of the album, perfectly encapsulating the emotions associated with a relationship ended, and learning to shrug off the memories attached with it, like the feeling of a new haircut. It’s no wonder why Pharrell began to tear up a little on first listen. Rogers’ vocals are amazing, both conveying meaning, and acting as an instrument in itself. The wordless hook is deeply affecting, but upon re-listening repeatedly, it’s the lyrics that keep you coming back.

“On + Off” plays with the beat, feeling more like an altered dance song and a little more robotic, especially with her altered vocals as accentuation. However, the beat starts to drag a little, making it feel less like a firefly and more like a flickering light.

However, the album finishes strong with “Dog Years” and “Better,” two of the most beautiful gosh darn songs I have ever heard. “Dog Years” is a perfect encapsulation of nostalgia and longing. The track perfectly samples the sounds of glass clinking and birds chirping with a bass that’s sweet and honest without pandering, which shifts during the chorus to a more electronic sound, evoking classic eighties synth. Rogers’ vocals explode during the chorus, with touching words to accompany. And if you weren’t already convinced, she introduces the sound of wooden drums during the second verse, along with a new beat to up the tempo. Throw a smooth, echo-y guitar lick in there, and you’ve got a song you can listen to over and over again.

The closing track, “Better,” could not be more perfectly named, because every time you think it’s done, it manages to top itself. It slows down the album a little, but doesn’t dampen it, and instead brings you into a dreamy ocean of sound. The second verse picks it up again, dropping a beat that makes you want to nod your head and move your body. Then the chorus brings you into the bridge, a beautiful combination of bass and voice modulation. Her voice perfectly transcends the barrier between vocal and instrumental, washing the listener in the sheer pleasure of it all. I’m not a fan of the fade-away, but I cannot imagine a more fitting end, almost as though the idea that it’s ended entirely is unthinkable.

“Now That the Light Is Fading” is the perfect coincidence of sounds, an inimitable mixing of genres. If I had one complaint, it’d be that it’s too short. Rogers takes music in a whole new direction, creating a sound unlike anything made today, each song like a distinct drop of purified mood. Though she is still early in her career, she already has everyone blown away. All that I ask is that Maggie Rogers doesn’t stop here.

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