Album Reviews

Maggie Rogers – Don’t Forget Me

(Polydor) UK release date: 12 April 2024

The songs on her third album have a timeless feel, perfect for blasting out on a sunny day driving along a highway

Maggie Rogers - Don't Forget Me Maggie Rogers‘ second album, Surrender, was one of the more unexpected success stories of 2022. It was a huge step up from her debut and full of widescreen alt-pop, with lyrics that read like they’d been torn from a particularly frank diary. Don’t Forget Me follows less than two years after Surrender, and at first, you’d be forgiven for a bit of trepidation, given the relatively brief time between records. You’d hope that she hadn’t been pressured by a record company bigwig to quickly produce a carbon-copy of Surrender.

That is, thankfully, not the case with Rogers’ third album. There’s a pleasing immediacy to it, but it doesn’t feel rushed or ill thought through. It turns out that the album was born out of a project that Rogers set herself: to write two songs a day, over five days, in chronological order. Those songs were recorded pretty much as first takes in New York’s famous Electric Lady studio and bashed into shape within a few days.

The resultant music marks another phase in Rogers’ development as a songwriter. She’s moved away from the fizzy alt-pop of Surrender, and even more so from the glossy synths of her debut, Heard It In A Past Life. This time around, she’s adopted a relaxed, folk-country pop approach – it sounds both timeless and bang up to date. “I wanted to make an album that sounded like a Sunday afternoon,” says Rogers. She’s succeeded.

It comes as no surprise to learn that her co-writer and producer on Don’t Forget Me is Ian Fitchuk, who co-produced Kacey Musgraves‘ breakthrough album The Golden Hour. It shares that sense of wistful wonder that Musgraves employs so well, and there are other moments that recall the easy pop-rock of Sheryl Crow and Natalie Imbruglia.

However, Rogers never sounds like she’s in thrall to these inspirations, but like she’s their new peer. Opening track It Was Coming All Along is a big swaying anthem of a song, full of existential angst (“I’m flying long past 22, so high, can’t find the moment it went wrong”) but still sounding hugely celebratory. Drunk is an early highlight, a spiky little pop song with a naggingly catchy chorus, while The Kill is a witty takedown of a bad date, describing a man who’d cancel a date in favour of going to see the New York Knicks basketball team (“and the Knicks lost,” Rogers adds in a wry spoken word closer).

Those sort of tracks will be familiar to anyone who fell for Surrender, but there’s some change in direction on Don’t Forget Me as well. I Still Do is the big ballad of the album, just Rogers accompanied by some stately piano, and you can almost feel the emotion flowing from the speakers. All The Same is another downbeat ballad, and while these more low-key moments aren’t as immediate as Rogers’ more poppy moments, they show another side of her as she’s evolving as a musician.

Rogers has described these songs as being about a girl on a road trip across America in her early 20s, and that’s the perfect description for this album – you can easily imagine them blasting out on a sunny day driving along a highway, and when the title track kicks in, a tear-stained, yearning ballad, it seems to sum up all the emotion of the end of a life-changing journey.

While Surrender was an album that immediately hit you, Don’t Forget Me takes a bit longer to work its magic. That does, though, bode well to her longevity as an artist. These songs have a timeless feel to them, and seem like ones we’ll be listening to for quite some time to come.

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Maggie Rogers – Don’t Forget Me
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