Maggie Rogers: Heard It in a Past Life Album Review

Maggie Rogers, a name that floated into the music world through a viral encounter with Pharrell Williams, has finally given us her debut album, “Heard It in a Past Life.” Over three years after that unexpected start, we get a glimpse of her growth and artistry. However, while her talents shine, the album finds itself tangled in a web of excessive production.

Heard It in a Past Life Album Overview

The album is a window into Maggie Rogers’ journey from a student to a budding star. Imagine if her fame hadn’t been launched by Pharrell’s nod. What stories might she have shared, and what melodies would she have spun? This album is her canvas for those stories, showcasing her blend of folk and electronica. The journey, though, hasn’t been smooth. Rogers’ rise mirrors that of other emerging pop stars, finding traction on platforms like Spotify playlists and celebrity endorsements on social media. The album stands as a testament to her struggle for control, where the electronic elements work to ground her ethereal voice.

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Track Analysis

“Heard It in a Past Life” unveils a blend of sonic textures, like cicada hisses and resounding synths. However, some tracks blend together, making melodies unclear. The structure often follows a similar pattern: somber verses leading to straightforward choruses. “Give a Little” carries the quaint charm of a past era’s iPod advert. “Light On” is a tribute to Rogers’ fans, aiming for a rousing touch but not quite reaching the heights of other anthems. “Burning” ignites with a vocal fervor, much like Florence Welch’s rallying cries.

Production and Instrumentation

The album’s production often takes center stage, possibly more than necessary. The mix of sounds can be overwhelming at times, making it challenging to appreciate the melodies fully. The collaboration with various producers might explain this complexity. Synths, beats, and echoes create a rich sonic environment. However, this approach can lead to confusion, overshadowing the simplicity that often lies at the heart of a strong melody.

Songwriting and Lyrics

Rogers’ songwriting reveals glimpses of her experiences – the clarity, infatuation, and confusion that come with growth. Yet, the lyrics lean towards exposition rather than communal revelations. While some tracks, like “Back in My Body,” speak to her efforts to find herself amidst the chaos, others like “On + Off” capture moments of vulnerability. These instances resonate, revealing her evolution, but the album leaves room for deeper exploration.

Vocal Performance

Rogers’ voice carries a stubborn and serious tone throughout the record. This refusal to conform can be captivating, but it sometimes leaves a desire for more emotional range. Her live performance of “Fallingwater” on “SNL” showcases a hunter’s fervor, a passionate contrast to the album version’s subtlety. Rogers’ earnestness preserves her as the deer in headlights, resisting the meek image brought about by her viral fame.

Comparisons and Influences

The album’s sonic landscape draws comparisons to artists like Sylvan Esso or a world where Haim grew up in Portland. It exhibits a blend of folk and electronic elements, resulting in a distinctive style. Yet, the influences can sometimes overshadow the originality. Rogers’ embrace of electronica and folk offers a fresh perspective, but it’s important for her voice to emerge distinctively amidst these influences.

Emotional Impact

The album’s emotional core revolves around moments of self-discovery. Rogers expresses her journey through Paris and her inner turmoil in “Back in My Body.” “On + Off” delves into vulnerability and navigating complicated emotions. These instances offer glimpses of Rogers’ evolution, creating a relatable connection for listeners.

Target Audience

“Heard It in a Past Life” seems to target those who enjoy a mix of folk and electronic music. It appeals to those looking for introspective lyrics and a fusion of different sonic elements. The album captures moments of transformation and self-awareness, resonating with those seeking relatable experiences.


While the album doesn’t stumble into incompetence, there’s a sense of hesitancy. The production sometimes overshadows the melodies, leaving a desire for clearer, simpler arrangements. The structure of songs can feel formulaic, with similar verse-chorus patterns. The lyrics, while offering personal glimpses, often feel more explanatory than deeply introspective.

Personal Insights

As a listener, the charm of Maggie Rogers’ music lies in her ability to merge folk and electronic elements. The album showcases her growth, but it feels like there’s room for her voice to shine brighter amidst the intricate production. Moments like her live performance of “Fallingwater” remind us of her potential to deliver emotionally charged performances. However, for the next step in her journey, I hope to see more focus on melodic clarity and lyrical depth.

In the world of music, Maggie Rogers’ “Heard It in a Past Life” stands as a snapshot of her artistic journey. Through a blend of folk and electronica, she crafts a narrative of growth, self-discovery, and the challenges of emerging fame. While the album isn’t without its complexities, it presents a promising foundation for Rogers to build upon as she continues to explore her unique sound.

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