The Music Moment: Older by Lizzy McAlpine

3 mins read

Grade: A+

This Friday, Lizzy McAlpine released her third album Older, which she started writing during lockdown in 2021 at the same time as writing her sophomore project five seconds flat. In a recent interview for the Zach Sang Show, McAlpine said, “This album is not going to sound like five seconds flat. I’m just searching for the right sound and I’m just going until I find it.” In the interview, she goes on to explain that each song in this new album represents a different journey, and themes like navigating toxic relationships, vulnerability, and struggles with being in the public eye emerge along the way. Though this album is different from McAlpine’s previous work as she is writing about her personal growth, she still keeps the slow acoustic feel she is known and loved for, making for a fresh take on her previous style. 

The album opens with “The Elevator,” a short minute-and-a-half song that encapsulates the overwhelming fear of losing someone close. She sings, “Suddenly the only thing I saw was you” and “Suddenly I have everything to lose,” conveying her vulnerability and realization that she cares too much to let this person go. This short and sweet intro perfectly opens the album, introducing the melancholic mood for the rest of the project.

 “Come Down Soon” follows, painting a vivid picture of a fleeting and intense romantic encounter. As the song progresses, McAlpine comes to terms with the fact that her time with this person may be short-lived. The repetition of the refrain “oh, it’ll come down soon” illustrates her awareness that it will not last no matter how much she wants it to. The song starts out with acoustic guitar strums, which are then joined by soft piano and drums that complement the lyrics very well. As one of the few tracks that explores wide instrumentation rather than depending on a sole guitar or piano, this song stands out as one of the best.

The fourth song on the project is titled “Movie Star.” The lyrics explore longing and self-reflection as the “movie star” she desires is revealed to want her back. The song starts with McAlpine’s excitement as this person is giving her attention, but as the song progresses, she soon realizes this person has changed her and she doesn’t recognize herself anymore. McAlpine includes yet another repeating phrase, “Over and over,” which suggests her inability to break free from this person as she is unable to grow. Featuring just McAlpine and her guitar, this song is reminiscent of the style of her live EP When the World Stopped Moving and is soft, emotional, and enjoyable.

Piano and drums open “All Falls Down,” which has a more upbeat style than the previous songs but still fits with the themes of self-doubt and vulnerability. Overwhelmed by life’s burdens and how everything seems to be occurring all at once, McAlpine sings, “It all falls down on you at the same time.” “Twenty-three and a sold-out show / I am happy, but I’ll probably cry after you go home,” she continues, demonstrating her vulnerability when navigating her adulthood in the public eye. These lyrics are impressively vulnerable and well crafted, suited by her incredible, soft voice. 

In March, McAlpine released “I Guess,” a single that ended up becoming the seventh song on Older. McAlpine performed this song during her recent five seconds flat tour and uses a recording of her audience in Toronto as background vocals in this studio recording. McAlpine sings about how timing plays a huge role in relationships and that sometimes things don’t work out despite trying hard. And, by including her fans in the song, it is even easier to feel connected to the music. “You Forced Me” continues to explore this theme of the intertwining of pain and love. The relationships feel suffocating for McAlpine and she conveys an off-putting but mystical mood through touching lyrics, a slow tempo, and beautiful guitar strums. There is a gorgeous harmony that fills up space before the song ends with a piano interlude.

“Vortex” is the final and, at six minutes, the longest song on the album. In it, McAlpine expresses guilt for how a relationship turned out, but she knows she is not fully to blame. Later in the song, she recognizes that her pain will soon subside and longs for the day that will happen. The song ends with McAlpine’s determination to break free from this guilt: “Someday I’ll be able to let you go,” she says. 

Older is McAlpine’s best project yet, an impressive feat as Five Seconds Flat is an incredible album. The album is emotional, raw, and often slow, but the few upbeat songs keep the energy up.

Amari Witt is a sophomore at M-A and this is her first year in journalism. She has written many music stories and hopes to write more event stories. In her free time she likes to perform with M-A Drama and she loves being with her friends.

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