Now That The Light Is Fading
Debay Sounds LLC/Capitol Records
Maggie Rogers was an overnight sensation after Pharrell raved about her song-in-the-making, Alaska; the legend goes – Pharrell delivers a masterclass at a New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music – that half-hour listening session made it to YouTube and midway through Rogers steps up to sing her song in early-demo form. It’s all casual and low-key but Pharrell tells the world it’s found its new superstar. No Pressure!
Well, if I knew that story – and I’m sure I did, in some sense – I didn’t connect it up with this debut EP by Maggie Rogers (at least not until after I’d heard it a half-dozen times). So I’m pleased about that. I had a chance at this music without that giant story towering over it.
Also – we know to never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Rogers didn’t quite come from nowhere. Sure, a recommendation from Pharrell might instantly give you an audience but Rogers had grafted away for longer than just the one day everyone assumes separates a ‘nobody’ from overnight success. There are other EPs, singles, remixes and albums available across the last half-decade (hit up her Bandcamp to check any/all out). Now That The Light Is Fading is her international debut – the first attempt to grab some time in the limelight and the music here suggests that light is in fact far from fading…
Alaska has been dressed up large now – hints of Lorde’s intensity, Banks and Grimes too, On + Off even reminds of when Florence first fired up her Machine. But there’s more than just that too. To my ears the highlight here isn’t even Alaska (a pretty good song). It’s one called Dog Years where we can dream off and away from ‘name’-drop pop-acts. This has the quiet confidence of Kate Rogers (you might remember her not only from solo work but as the voice of trip-hop act, Aim), hints too of Tracey Thorn’s solo endeavours – both the latter-day pop-productions and her earnest, folkie roots on her solo debut.
Some of the music this rubs up and around I don’t care for – Lorde, Broods – but so much of what it also hints to (Kate Rogers, Thorn, Banks, Grimes) I’m far more interested in and on board with; that’s been the case with this EP too. Right from first listen, before I revisited the “back-story” and connected the two up: I’m on board with it, I believe in it, I believe her. She’s a talent. That’s obvious. But what’s not always obvious in describing young talent, in prescribing (to) it – is the fact that Rogers has the songs. This is a sharp move too, releasing just an EP when she has albums of material behind her. The best work has been offered, a little sampler, a nice grab – nothing here sounds like it shouldn’t have been allowed to surface, all of it works, it has a nice flow and feel to it as a self-contained EP too. Little traces of late-night hip-hop and dance-inflected pop, the beats and melodies feel whole, rather than that water-colour treatment that washes away after a listen or two.
I’ll look forward to hearing where she goes next. And hope the Pharrell-boost doesn’t turn out to be some unshakeable albatross. On the evidence presented here she’s going to be more than okay.