The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

“Older” Review: A Melancholic symphony of emotion and evolution

Yu Yu Blue

After two years of touring her sophomore album, “Five Seconds Flat,” Lizzy McAlpine makes a captivating return to deliver “Older,” her third album, which marks a significant departure from her previous work. As it strips away the noise to create a more instrumental and folk-inspired sound across 14 tracks, “Older” is a tribute to music and themes of love, fear and loss while exuding bittersweet truthfulness and indie-folk charm. 

Born and raised in Philadelphia, McAlpine debuted her first album, “Give Me a Minute” in August 2020 after leaving Berklee College of Music amid the pandemic. Her debut showcased a collection of sweet acoustic tracks, where the spotlight falls solely on McAlpine and her guitar. In 2022, “Five Seconds Flat,” earned her an inaugural Billboard No. 1 with the track “ceilings.” This release would build upon the elements of acoustic indie found in her debut while also integrating pop-rock themes. With “Older,” McAlpine places a strong focus on the instrumentals, resulting in a rawness that surpasses anything she’s done before. 

This tone becomes immediately evident within the opening tracks, such as “The Elevator,” which introduces the record with a mellow piano melody accompanied by layers of McAlpine’s choir-like vocals. The last moments of the track unleash a full-band arrangement, including drums, strings and piano, culminating in an emotional crescendo of instrumentals, which make a return throughout the record. 

The following track, “Come Down Soon,” strongly establishes the indie-folk tone of the album. McAlpine opens the song, singing alongside her guitar, but as it progresses, the band joins in with a livelier sound. Although the song sounds upbeat, the themes are actually quite melancholic, as she sings in the chorus: “Nothing this good ever lasts this long for me,” and “Nothing this good’s ever really good for me.” The interplay of a lively folk sound with pensive lyrics is beautifully endearing, making the song a perfect choice for the days when you crave a calmer tone.

The gentle strains of the next couple of tracks continue with wistful and acoustic elements, and then we are lifted back up with the fifth track of the record, “All Falls Down.” This stands out as a beloved track among fans and masterfully intertwines somber words with upbeat instrumentals, which seem to be the album’s signature. McAlpine describes her complicated feelings about touring and fame, as she writes, “23 and a sold out show, I am happy but I’ll probably cry after you go home.” “All Falls Down,” is a testament to McAlpine’s musical style, seamlessly blending melancholic lyrics, catchy instrumentals and per usual, outstanding vocals. 

Additionally, McAlpine showcases her sonic ingenuity on the tracks “Broken Glass” and “You Forced Me To.” “Broken Glass” starts with tranquil instrumentals, gradually building to a powerful climax adorned by strong drums, cymbals and resonant bass before receding back to its mellow origins. The track is a poignant journey, guiding you through McAlpine’s emotional evolution. Following this, “You Forced Me To” emerges, featuring a somber and unsettling tone characterized by an eerie piano and McAlpine’s painful declaration: “I have changed because you forced me to” Set against a haunting, almost circuslike piano in a minor key, McAlpine’s sonic talent is strongly exemplified here. 

The final and longest track, “Vortex,” showcases McAlpine’s balladeer prowess as she passionately sings a five-minute lament, finding solace in the words: “Someday you’ll come back, and I’ll say no.” The song concludes with a hopeful two-minute instrumental crescendo and then a decrescendo that reverts to a peaceful piano blend, accompanied by McAlpine’s gentle vocals. 

“Older” resonates as a reflection album in which McAlpine had the opportunity to accompany her storytelling with a more mature and deeply rooted sonic landscape. Approaching her mid-20s, McAlpine navigates introspection, loss and above all, growing pains. “Older” invites listeners in on this profound journey of reflection and acceptance while fore fronting its musical intricacies with melancholic beauty. 

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