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Lizzy McAlpine grapples with time, love, loss while getting “Older”

True to title, new album demonstrates artist’s immense growth while highlighting her roots

“Older,” McAlpine’s third full-length studio album, certainly lives up to the sense of growth and wisdom that its title suggests. 
Courtesy of RCA Records
“Older,” McAlpine’s third full-length studio album, certainly lives up to the sense of growth and wisdom that its title suggests. Courtesy of RCA Records

Lizzy McAlpine has long been known by her fans for her impressive vocal range and hard-hitting lyrics. Her song “ceilings” went viral on TikTok last year, and her expert storytelling brought her to mainstream recognition. Captivated by the song’s deep emotional journey and its surprise twist ending, many listeners were eager to see what McAlpine would do next.

Finally — nearly two years after the release of her last album, “five seconds flat” — McAlpine released the lead single and title track of her new album, “Older,” just before Valentine’s Day. A second single, “I Guess,” followed exactly a month later on March 13. 

“Older,” McAlpine’s third full-length studio album, certainly lives up to the sense of growth and wisdom that its title suggests. Building on the success of “ceilings,” the album plays into her skills as a vocalist and storyteller. Throughout the album, McAlpine takes listeners through a series of vignettes that detail an unraveling relationship. Each one expresses the anxiety and insecurity felt in the moment, as well as the sense of clarity that comes with hindsight. The clear thematic focus on the passage of time makes the songs feel distinct, yet cohesive when played together.

In the opening track of “Older,” McAlpine introduces the emotional journey to come. Running for just under two minutes, “The Elevator” serves as a prologue to the album, introducing its overarching themes of love, loss and self-reflection with lyrics and instrumentals that gradually elevate in intensity — just as the title suggests. 


Listeners are then abruptly whisked away from an insightful reflection on the past into the unassuming beginnings of a relationship. In “Come Down Soon,” McAlpine highlights early moments of a romance, and ponders the feelings of doubt that follow. 

“There’s something here / I’m biding time ‘til it disappears,” she sings in the song’s chorus, exploring the uncertainty that she felt when the relationship seemed too good to be true.

Such themes of apprehension and insecurity are pervasive throughout the rest of the album, especially as McAlpine reflects on more negative experiences. Later tracks such as “Staying” or “Broken Glass” express the emotional harm associated with a toxic relationship. 

“Drunk, Running,” in particular, details navigating a relationship with someone struggling with alcoholism. Burdened by her own role in her partner’s addiction, McAlpine first blames herself for enabling their destructive behavior. The narrative then inverts as the song progresses, shifting from McAlpine agonizing over how she can help toward instead pondering why she stays in the relationship. Specifically, she notes her partner’s abusive tendency to “Say ‘I love you’ / And then drink it backwards.”

Other songs take a step back from relationship woes, grappling with feelings of anxiety about the passage of time. On “All Falls Down,” McAlpine expresses her fears and frustrations with getting older and growing in popularity as an artist. Such feelings are juxtaposed with upbeat instrumentals that steadily increase in power before ultimately exploding with frustration in the song’s bridge. 

“I can’t stop the time from moving / And I can never get it back,” she sings, as the drums kick in and instruments devolve into chaotic rhythms. Eventually, the chaos clears to end the song on a calm note, illustrating how McAlpine’s anxiety comes in waves and the necessity she feels to pull them together.

Perhaps what makes the album so comforting is how grounded McAlpine has remained even after her rapid rise to stardom. While she has had her fair share of high profile collaborations — including a recent song with Jacob Collier and fellow Berklee School of Music alum John Mayer — McAlpine chose to keep this album strictly her own, with no features across the 14 tracks and stripped down production. This level of intimacy strongly parallels her first album, “Give Me A Minute,” with acoustic performances that seek to highlight the vocal prowess that her fans know and love. 

With the emotional and reflective “Vortex,” McAlpine marks the end of the album and the introspection that defines it. Looking to the future, she states, “Someday I’ll be able to let you go / Someday you’ll come back, and I’ll say no” — concluding on the same bittersweet but hopeful note with which she began.


Campbell Loi

Campbell Loi, a senior staff writer and copy editor for The Herald, is a junior from Syracuse, NY studying Public Health and International and Public Affairs. Outside of academics, she loves all things music and enjoys performing, arranging, and constantly listening to songs in her free time.

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