Lizzy McAlpine 2024
Photo: baeth / Sacks & Co.

Lizzy McAlpine Ages Into Herself on ‘Older’

Older hones in on what makes Lizzy McAlpine a compelling artist: astute observations of being young and in love and still learning what those things mean.

Lizzy McAlpine
5 April 2024

“Don’t know why I feel I’m faking something,” sings Lizzy McAlpine on her third studio album, Older, her major label debut. “I don’t know what to do with my hands anymore.” The singer gained popularity on the indie folk and pop circuits at the beginning of the 2020s, with her debut LP Give Me a Minute ending up speaking to the urban loneliness brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Five Seconds Flat, her sophomore effort, leaned more into indie pop and generated her first spot on the Billboard 200 chart.

Now, as McAlpine has been signed to RCA to release her first record on a major label, the simplicity of its title suggests that the singer, still in her early 20s, is more grown up than the young woman we heard in her first two albums. Rather than broadening her musical horizons, Older hones in on what makes McAlpine a compelling artist: astute observations of being young and in love and still learning what those things mean. Combined with her signature gentle lyrics and vocal range, the singer has aged into her musical personality on her third album.

“I feel like a movie star in the leading role,” McAlpine declares elsewhere. “Famous to someone.” A stark juxtaposition to the feelings of insecurity and imposter syndrome displayed in “Like It Tends to Do”, the singer capitalizes on the range of emotions that come into play when young adults start navigating the world for the first time. How fleeting feelings of confidence can be once attention from the one person we were craving it from disappears. Some days, we’re the movie stars, and some days, we don’t know what to do with our hands. Such is life.

As Lizzy McAlpine experiments with different production elements on Older, it often reminds us that talented people sometimes seem the most talented when they don’t have any gimmicks. The singer doesn’t stray too far from the soft indie-folk sounds that made her a cult-favorite indie darling in the first place, but her attempts at infusing her lyrics with the sonic properties also heard on a mid-aughts Tegan and Sara ballad remind us that McAlpine is the most darling when she’s just being herself.

But one must also grow up to find and create themselves, and that’s precisely what McAlpine aims to do on an album aptly titled Older. “Mom’s getting older / I’m wanting it back,” she deliberates on the title track. “Where no one is dying / And no one is hurt / And I have been good to you / Instead of making it worse.” For those who grow up with the internalized belief that everything is secretly their fault, growing up means learning that there is ultimately so much within our own power. The lifelong challenge, of course, is figuring out just how much we can control and just how much we need to release.

Lizzy McAlpine doesn’t offer an answer to that question on Older, but she doesn’t need to. “Nothing this good ever lasts this long for me,” she sings. “Something here / I’m biding time ’til it disappears.” Getting older means learning the hard way that, to paraphrase the Indigo Girls, darkness is so much easier to find than lightness. McAlpine knows this and realizes there will never be one answer to life’s big questions. The solution in the meantime is to feel as much as possible and know that you aren’t going to die from those feelings.

RATING 7 / 10