As my personal three-time Spotify Wrapped artist of the year, Maggie Rogers has entered the pantheons of my music identity. While her first album, Heard It in a Past Life, embodied a hyper-saturated, semi-overproduced, yet endearing sound, her most recent single, “That’s Where I Am,” offers a new gateway into the life of the undergraduate singer-songwriter turned viral sensation: one that favors a more grunge, raw image that dismisses the innocent folk feel that I’ve come to know.
I was introduced to Rogers approximately three years ago during my high school senior spring: a time of mass change given the unnerving proximity to graduation day. While my music taste in high school wasn’t lacking—I often opted for more alt-pop bands such as The Strokes, Two Door Cinema Club, and, embarrassingly Twenty One Pilots—I knew it was time for a change. While MGMT ’05 offered a glimpse into possible life at Wesleyan, I was on the hunt for a new artist of whom I could take with me into college.
I discovered Rogers when I, like most other Wesleyan pre-frosh at the time, was scouring the deep corners of WesAdmits 2023 for predominantly three things: to read information about the school, to join any and all social media groups, and to study the introduction posts of my to-be classmates. Through my perusal of WesAdmits, I noticed a trend among my peers—people loved Maggie Rogers. In an attempt to expand my music taste, or maybe to fit in, I optimistically dove into Heard It in a Past Life.
Luckily, Rogers offered a musical and social pivot, allowing me to explore new sounds that would become daily staples in my on-campus life. I quickly became entrenched in the sheer pop/folk vibe of it all, the broken conventions Rogers used to magnify her music, and the world Rogers painted through her lyricism.
Given these factors and my convenient discovery, I always associated Rogers with spring. Spring is more than just a season: it represents a pivot from the cold, dark winter and the warm, free-flow summer. This transition pairs wonderfully with Rogers, whose music often expresses the themes of renewal, optimism, and coming into oneself. Like the youthful sound of Heard It In A Past Life, this transition is related to youthful innocence. Not only does summer mark a time of relaxation and excitement for younger students ready to leave school for the year, but, personally, it represents a shift towards higher education: a time defined by self-discovery.
As I gear up toward my senior year at Wesleyan, a concluding fourth chapter in my college experience, “That’s Where I Am” fittingly poses both a reintroduction to spring at Wesleyan and an opportunity to reflect on how far I have come as a eccentric Maggie Rogers listener.
On the whole, I liked “That’s Where I Am.” While definitely a shift from the nostalgic pop of Heard It in a Past Life or the raw folk of Notes from the Archive: Recordings 2011–2016, the change was not not necessarily unwelcome. The song is probably best understood to be a modern indie, aggressively New York version of George Michaels’ “Freedom! ’90,” both in its celebratory rhythms and buoyant vibes. While the instrumentation is heavily synthesized, a trait that many of Rogers’ songs share, it marks a sharp departure from euphoric, whimsical Rogers of my senior year.
“That’s Where I Am” is more aggressive, as if she wants you to hear the lyrics. “That’s Where I Am” tracks a narrator, presumably Rogers herself, following an unrequited love in the metaphoric everywhere. What perhaps sticks out most is the notion of time within the song. The lyrics towards the beginning track the narrator through the bright spots of her relationship: “I found a reason to wake up / Coffee in my cup, start a new day.” As the song continues, however, Rogers unveils the pitfalls of this love, primarily considering the presence of another. Soon, this becomes a means for social comparison, implying that wealth, status, and public perception play pivotal roles in Rogers’ internal monologue: “The woman that you once dated / I couldn’t relate to her glitter and furs.” Nonetheless, Rogers concludes by remaining devoted, defining the relationship as a heavenly experience. While the lyrics evoke the salience of a relationship’s brightest spots, it unveils, rather pessimistically, that they don’t last forever.
Despite being less colorful than Heard It in a Past Life, Rogers’ recent release ticks all the boxes for what I would expect in a spring jam: a vibey electropop sound, more repeatability than is ever necessary, and, of course, symbolic wordplay. While I have more to weigh when I make my official spring playlist, I am fully expecting “That’s Where I Am” or other tracks from Surrender—Rogers’ next album—to be featured.
“Surrender” will include 12 new tracks and is expected to drop on Friday, July 29. It has been three years since Heard It in a Past Life, and if this new single is any indicator, that time has been put to good use. If there was any doubt, fans can rest assured that Maggie Rogers has cemented herself as an artist who is, was, and forever will be a spring staple.
Oliver Cope can be reached at email@example.com.