NYU alum Maggie Rogers rocketed to stardom after last year’s nod from Pharrell. She dropped her first EP, on Friday, titled “Now That the Light Is Fading.” Following a newly-minted deal with Capitol Records, Rogers reaches for new heights with this EP, albeit with varying results.
The starting track, “Color Song,” is unbelievably chilling and organic. Without the need for a beat, her voice glides through the track with ease and solemnity. The track frames the EP perfectly and beckons the listener to continue the journey into the musical wilderness.
Next up is “Alaska” — the singer’s debut single and no doubt the standout song on the record. As viral as the song has become, it still sounds fresh and continues to impress with every listen. Rogers’ vocals are dynamic and natural as she walks “through icy streams that took [her] breath away,” and conjures an idyllic nature scene that isn’t easily forgotten. The driving, stripped-down beat abounds with vivacity and deftly complements her singing. The chorus is a glowing and groovy mix, and it’s easy to see why this song has held up so well in the ever-challenging musical market.
As the EP moves forward, however, it loses some of its vitality. “On + Off,” a song with a heavy-hitting and hazy beat combined with synched vocals, sounds uninspired and jarring compared to the previous tracks. The soundscape of this song is at best an imitation of theLordes and Tove Los of late. It does little to advance Rogers’ promising sound.
The following song, “Dog Years,” starts off well. The combination of Rogers’ versatile voice and jingling percussion harken to a mysterious world. As the beat fully comes into the fray, however, her voice becomes restrained and loses its signature vocal dynamism. The sound and vibe that Rogers so strongly put forward with her first two tracks now
The final track, “Better,” is a welcome return to what initially made this record an exciting listen. The warm synths envelope the song, and her voice is once again liberated. The song drives forward in a much more unique and mystical fashion than the two previous tracks. The fluctuating melodies warp and bend harmoniously with her vocals throughout the whole song, making for a memorable end to the EP.
While this project loses some steam halfway through, her closing track makes an earnest effort to regain that momentum. As Rogers tries a variety of musical hats in this EP, the vibe she begins with is by far the one that resonates the most. This genre-melding, major label debut was no doubt an impressive first go for the fledgling musician and shows a lot of promise for projects to come. While the EP isn’t perfect, it’s concrete evidence that Rogers has captured a sound that’s not going to fade away anytime soon.
You can find “Now That the Light Is Fading” on all major streaming services and as a physical CD and vinyl release through Amazon.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 27 print edition.
Email Connor Gatesman at [email protected]