Album Review: Lizzy McAlpine “Older”

Graphics of a mountainous landscape in different shades of aqua. There is a light yellow sun rising, and light yellow letters that read: "Older, Lizzy McAlpine, Album review"
Graphics by Sarah Tarlin

By Avieana Rivera, Staff Writer

Artist: Lizzy McAlpine 

Album: Older 

Favorite Tracks: “You Forced Me To” “I Guess” “Come Down Soon” “Staying” 

For Fans of: Tiny Habits, Phoebe Bridgers, Gracie Abrams, Noah Kahan



Older, for Lizzy McAlpine, is an evolution. Her growth — both personally and professionally — has manifested itself into a brand new matured, and more confident sound. This album, unlike her previous two, strips down the sound and leans into indie-folk influences, straying away from the pop-rock songs her listeners are accustomed to. 

Older comes two years after McAlpine’s sophomore album, Five Seconds Flat, where she broke away from the soft schoolgirl ballads of her debut album Give Me a Minute, which was released shortly after her time at Berklee College of Music in Boston came to an end. 

Five Seconds Flat was a rebellion. With loud instrumentals and passionate vocals, McAlpine had a lot to say. Now, Older feels like a homecoming. Not all the way back to the sound listeners came to love in Give Me a Minute, but somewhere in between. Back to her roots in a way that feels authentic and matured. 



In this album, McAlpine grapples with themes of loss in life and in love; finding yourself; fears of fame; regret; and taking accountability for your past. This album, in terms of emotions, is raw, and more vulnerable than any of McAlpine’s past projects to date. She lays it all out for the listener, and puts her fears on display in order to move forward and grow from them. 

The sound of Older is calmer but the lyrics are just as heartbreaking; the compositions just as impressive. This toned down style seems to suit McAlpine more than those of her previous albums, and has provided her the comfort to get deep with her audience. This was quite the feat, as her last album featured some of her most popular songs. Her song “Ceilings” went viral on TikTok last year, with listeners fawning over the “plot twist” at the end, which revealed that the love story in the song was all a fantasy. Her new album delivers lots of lines that are just as disastrous to the soul, and does so in a way that feels much more authentic to herself as an artist.




The opening track, “The Elevator,” is short and sweet. In classic McAlpine fashion, it seamlessly blends into its successor, almost as if it was never there in the first place. It starts off slowly, with soft piano keys introducing the story she goes on to tell. At the end, she sings, “Can we stay like this forever? Can we be here in this room ‘till we die?” She pleads for the listeners to live in this moment with her, until the song erupts into full force. It isn’t until that burst of clarity that you realize how unclear the song was at the start. It’s almost like looking back on an experience and having it changed by time, and doubting your previous memories. 



A similar sense of self doubt is the theme of the next song, “Come Down Soon.” McAlpine grapples with the fear that the love she is experiencing is too good to be true, and can’t possibly last very long. The song is upbeat and catchy, despite the fearful irony of its lyrics. She sings softly over a guitar melody. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, she assures herself that her love can’t be good for her. 



Later in the album, she takes on heavier themes. In “Drunk, Running,” McAlpine sings about the guilt of loving someone who is struggling with sobriety. She sings, “What if it was all my fault? What if I drove you to it? I was only honest sometimes.” Replaying the entire relationship, she blames herself for staying when she shouldn’t have and for dreaming up an ideal version of someone in her head instead of seeing who they truly were. At the end of the song, there is a voice constantly echoing McAlpine’s, almost like she’s reassuring herself that these things are true. 



Perhaps the most coveted song on the album, “You Forced Me To” is classic McAlpine. From the lyricism and storytelling to the melody, this song is a hit by a Lizzy McAlpine fan’s standard. The song is about the guilt of being trapped in a toxic relationship. Through its progression, McAlpine deals with complex feelings towards her lover. She knows she’s not being good to them, and she wants them to hate her, but she also hates them for creating this person she sees in the mirror. The chorus, “I want you to hate me. I deserve it for my crimes,” juxtaposes the later lines, “I am not the same as when you met me. I have changed because you forced me to.” The lines are sung atop an eerie piano ballad, played in a short, repeating melody. This song has been teased on McAlpine’s social media since the album was announced, and did not disappoint when it was released. 



The title track, “Older,” is a gut-wrenching ballad about coming to terms with growing up. McAlpine grapples with the version of herself she thought she would be as a child, as well as her wants to return to simpler times. Throughout the song, she repeats, “Wish I was stronger somehow. Wish it was easy.” This song is beautifully devastating in the way that its lyrics bring you back to a time you can never go back to. McAlpine’s vocals are strong and secure, and take the listener on this heartbreaking journey with her. 



Later this month, Lizzy McAlpine will begin The Older Tour for this album. She is kicking off the tour in Los Angeles, and will be touring across North America and Europe. She is set to stop in Boston at MGM Music Hall on June 21st and 22nd, so if you love this album as much as I do, be sure to see it live!

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