Lizzy McAlpine Is a Little Bit 'Older,' a Little Bit Wiser

BY Aisling Murphy Published Apr 4, 2024


There might be more to life than ceilings, Lizzy McAlpine muses on her third full-length Older, a dreamy kaleidoscope of sentiments and sounds that mark a distinct step forward for the 24-year-old singer-songwriter.

In 2023, TikTok lapped up "Ceilings," McAlpine's haunting ballad about a suppositional lover. For a few months, McAlpine and "Ceilings" were all but synonymous with the feeling of being a twenty-something teenage girl, an adult woman steeped in the high emotions and low-stakes trimmings of adolescence. McAlpine made music before "Ceilings" — and with Older, she's proven that she'll make complicated, gorgeous music after it — but "Ceilings" represents an apex of her career, one she's admitted she feels ambivalent about.

Enter Older, as rooted in the real world as "Ceilings" was divorced from it. Across its 14 tracks, McAlpine reflects on the scorching gaze of the public eye and the thorny embrace of her personal life. The album's eponymous single bleeds nostalgia, reflecting on the "carousel ride" of a lost childhood, while tracks like "Broken Glass" and "You Forced Me to" frame barbed accusations in velvety, lugubrious arrangements. The quiet rage we heard on previous tracks like "Doomsday" simmers and seethes across Older, bubbling up in songs' bridges only to demur in their conclusions. Each song on Older represents a journey — from trust to heartbreak, from naive to jaded, from love to loss — and together they form a lovely, diaristic album of razor-sharp observations on the world and its capacity to hurt.

McAlpine's influences echo across Older, from dodie's affinity for layered vocals to Jacob Collier's unique taste for crunchy orchestrations. Combined with McAlpine's smooth-as-milk voice and ever-specific lyrics, the musical worlds of these songs are rich and well-conceived, joining together to present a decidedly mature album of lamentations and love letters. With "Vortex," McAlpine is at her most honest and spiky, closing Older with what I predict will become her next catalog-defining anthem.

With Older, McAlpine enters a new era of her career, armed with bluesy seventh chords and simple rhythms. She's done the work; she's done the soul-searching; she's done the meticulous labour of shaving her thoughts down to their purest, most authentic truths. Consider the ceiling of her last album cycle shattered.


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